Where No Lives Matter

The New York Times reported today, unsurprisingly, on new data that further reveal the racial discrepancies in capital punishment. And over at the Los Angeles Review of Books Philosophical Salon, REACH Coalition member Elizabeth Lanphier writes about the unique implications of the racial inequities in capital punishment for Tennessee’s death row:

“In a state moving astonishingly fast at executing inmates who’ve spent decades on Death Row, the least controversial executions are, apparently, of white men.”

Screen Shot 2020-08-03 at 1.12.48 PM

Read the full column here.

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REACH Coalition in the Tennessean

REACH coalition outsider Elizabeth Lanphier wrote about Tennessee’s complicated policies regarding life and death, capital punishment and abortion. Especially in light of the recently signed anti-abortion legislation, and the only temporary reprieve of Harold Wayne Nichols’s execution, previously scheduled for August 4th.

How can you say every life is precious, including a potential life in utero, yet electrocute a fellow human to death? The COVID-19 pandemic, impacting the health and welfare of nearly 7 million people living in Tennessee, has stalled Nichols’ execution. But it has not stopped it. Yet Lee has the power to do so.”- Elizabeth Lanphier in the Tennessean, July 31, 2020.

Read the full column over at The Tennessean.

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The Newness of Each Day

Akil Poem June 2020

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What Does it Mean to Have Justice?

What Does It Mean to Have Justice

By Akil Jahi

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Community Healing through Conflict Resolution

REACH Member Abu Ali Abdur’Rahman wrote in the Maximum Times about his reflections on becoming a Rule 31 Mediator and a facilitator of the Conflict Management Class in Unit 2.

Abu Ali on Conflict Management and Mental Health

excerpt from the Maximum Times

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What Does It Mean to Have Peace?

What Does It Mean to Have Peace

By Pastor Kevin Burns

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What Does It Mean to Have a Good Life?

Harold Wayne Nichols, whose scheduled August 4th execution was temporarily reprieved on July 18th by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee through the end of 2020 due to the “challenges and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes about what it means to him to have a good life.

What Does It Mean to Have a Good Life

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Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline

One of the core commitments of REACH insiders and outsiders is for young people to be better supported by their communities, their schools, their families, their politicians, and systems like health care, mental health care, and justice practices, to never set a foot in prison as an insider.

We see from the experiences of our committee members that many of us would have made different choices if we had been exposed to different opportunities and expectations. The goal of the School-to-Prison Pipeline Subcommittee is to reach out to young people and encourage them that they can be more. Every single young person is important and worthy of a full, limitless life. We want to make sure that they hear this message before their options disappear.

But for death row insiders to have an impact, to support young people, and to support reform, we need those on the outside to listen to their stories and to translate their message into action: to vote, to organize, to demand more, to show up, to care.

Harold Wayne Nichols, scheduled to be executed by the state of Tennessee on August 4, 2020, leads the School to Prison Pipeline Subcommittee. He is passionate about helping young people have different opportunities, resources, and support than he had and is a staunch advocate of community engagement, criminal justice reform, and youth support.

Read his full statement, and those of other School to Prison Pipeline Members in our updated 2020 Pamphlet here: School to Prison Pipeline Pamphlet_2020

HWN on School to Prison Pipeline


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What Does It Mean to Have Humanity?

What Does It Mean to Have Humanity - Quintero

By Derrick Quintero

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The Form of Reform

In January of this year the REACH Coalition partnered with the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University to stage The Form of Reform, an art show including paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry and leather work, video installations, and writing created by past and present insiders in Unit 2 at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison.

The response from the public who interacted with the art was immense. And then everything changed. The show still hangs at the Curb Center, and will be through this year. We hope visitors will again see the show and be in the space with the art. The Curb Center is currently extending an invitation for those interested to make an appointment for a private viewing:

*To comply with Covid-19 safety recommendations we are asking for anyone interested in viewing this show to make an appointment by calling 615.322.2872 or emailing curbcenter@vanderbilt.edu first.

As the Curb Center and REACH described the show, it ask: What does it mean to be human? How does one come to forgiveness? What needs to happen to heal? What does it mean to have peace?  Is our justice system really just? Should the death penalty exist?

With The Form of Reform we want to facilitate the difficult yet long-overdue conversations which address the complex questions surrounding our current criminal justice system, prison reform, and the death penalty.  These questions can never be answered if the conversations only include the same voices which created, and often profit from, the problem. Yet these voices, and indeed every voice, cannot be left out of the discussions if real, positive, change is to happen. We hope the community will use The Form of Reform to engage in civil, authentic dialogue with friends and strangers around restorative and transformative justice.  True justice can only be accomplished by listening to the voices of those within the community: You.


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