Race, Equity, and Policy: Exploring Criminal Justice Reform

Suffolk University and Boston Debate League partner to address criminal justice reform

Suffolk University and the Boston Debate League (BDL) will partner on a series of virtual community forums, programs, and conversations addressing one of the United States’ most pressing policy issues – criminal justice reform.

Over the course of seven months, the Race, Equity, and Policy: Exploring Criminal Justice Reform series will bring experts in the field of criminal justice, policy leaders and people impacted by the criminal justice system together with students in the Boston Public Schools and members of the Suffolk University, Boston Debate League and broader Boston communities to explore this topic through the lenses of race and equity. 

“Our goal is that all participants are engaged in critical discourse, informed by evidence and empowered to take action based on the exploration of the U.S. criminal justice system as it is, and as it might be,” said Mike Wasserman, executive director of the Boston Debate League.  “We see this virtual series as a way to deepen the learning opportunities for students and welcome the broader Suffolk, BDL and Boston communities to join in the learning process.” 

The series will kick off at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, with a forum exploring police reform and proposed legislation related to police involvement in Greater Boston communities. “Communities and Policing: A Conversation on Local Reform Efforts” will include: 

  • Massachusetts State Representative Russell Holmes 
  • Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell
  • Attorney Joseph D. Feaster Jr., member of the Boston Police Reform Task Force, and chairman of the board, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts
  • Brenda Bond-Fortier, PhD., Professor of Public Administration, Institute for Public Service, Suffolk University, author of Organizational Change in an Urban Police Department: Innovating to Reform

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. 

Additional events in the series will examine sentencing, prisons, criminal justice and immigrant communities, the impacts of incarceration on children and families and community activism. 

The series builds on a long-standing partnership between Suffolk University and the BDL. That partnership has included the creation of innovative academic programs and college-level coursework for Boston Public School students, debate prep, tournaments, camps and more. The nonprofit Boston Debate League brings competitive debate into the Boston Public Schools, cultivating critical thinking and communications skills that prepare students for college and careers and engagement with the world around them. The BDL also trains teachers to use debate as part of their classroom practice. 

“This series will engage students and the broader public in an important exploration of critical issues related to criminal justice reform,” said Suffolk President Marisa Kelly. “We are pleased to build on our partnership with the Boston Debate League through these important conversations with an approach that empowers students. The Boston Debate League has proven the powerful role that exploration of issues and debate plays in helping to prepare students for academic and career success and positive community impact.” 

In addition to the Communities and Policing Forum, events in the series will include:

  • Examining the Impact of Criminal Justice Policies on BIPOC in the Court System
  • Student Perspectives on Criminal Justice Reform
  • The Aftermath of Mass Incarceration
  • Criminal Justice Through the Immigrant Lens
  • Community Activism: Taking Action and Calling for Change

Media Contact

Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs
[email protected]