The Atlantic Hosts Forum on Prison Reform

Cory Booker
Sen. Cory Booker speaks during the Atlantic's "Defining Justice" forum at the National Union Building in D.C. on Feb. 28. (Courtesy of The Atlantic)

The Atlantic magazine held a forum in D.C. Wednesday on inequities in the U.S. prison system, part of its ongoing “Defining Justice” series on criminal justice reform in America.

The event at the National Union Building in Northwest, which was underwritten by Google, featured speeches from Sens. Mike Lee and Cory Booker, and Malika Saada Saar, Google’s senior counsel on civil and human rights.

With the largest prison population in the world, the United States has often been criticized for what detractors say is unjust treatment for minorities, youth and women. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the black population is the largest racial denomination per capita of those incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails.

Although many agree reform is needed, differences abound in terms of thoughts of how that reform may take place. Though representatives from conservative and liberal factions were present, the conversation produced no clear way forward.

Nevertheless, Booker made an impassioned call to action.

“The opposite of justice is inaction, apathy and ignorance,” he said. “The awakening we need in America is to see each other’s dignity, and to see each other’s beauty.”

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