R.E.A.C.H. Coalition is a diverse, unified group of people emerging from different perspectives. We are educators, students, artists, writers, social reformers, people of faith, and death row prisoners.
R.E.A.C.H. stands for Reciprocal Education And Community Healing.
Reciprocal education means that everyone has something to teach and something to learn; by sharing our experience and ideas with others, we grow as individuals and as a community. R.E.A.C.H. practices reciprocal education by hosting weekly workshops in philosophy, art, creative writing, and community-building & conflict resolution.
Community healing is a process of repairing relationships that have been damaged and building new relationships and communities based on mutual respect and support. R.E.A.C.H. engages in community healing on death row and beyond by reaching in to other people on death row and reaching out to the public through presentations, online resources, and collaboration with faith groups and other community groups.
In our practice of reciprocal education and community healing, we are committed to an intersectional approach that recognizes the complexity of each person’s relation to race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, religion, and carceral status. We accept and embrace diversity, while analyzing and resisting the way oppressive power structures render certain groups of people more vulnerable to different kinds of violence and injustice.
R.E.A.C.H. Coalition affirms our collective responsibility to address the harm of multiple forms of violence: interpersonal, structural, institutional, and state violence. Interpersonal violence is when individuals hurt each other physically or emotionally. Structural violence refers to the way racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression narrow the life chances of some groups of people while privileging others; it often sets the stage for interpersonal violence. Institutional violence refers to the way institutions such as prisons and universities perpetuate structural violence, even in the name of “justice” or “higher learning.” And state violence refers to the state’s monopoly on the legal use of violence, for example by executing its own citizens.
In everything we do, R.E.A.C.H. Coalition aims towards restorative and transformative justice, as alternatives to our current system of retributive justice. Retributive justice tries to address harm through the punishment, isolation, and incapacitation of offenders; it focuses on the harm of interpersonal violence without examining the larger context of structural, institutional and state violence. Restorative justice seeks to restore the wholeness of individuals and communities by rehabilitating offenders and reconciling them with victims and with the community. But what if there is no prior wholeness to restore? What if the “offender” is also a “victim” of multiple forms of violence, including structural violence within the community? Transformative justice addresses the root causes of violence on every level by practicing conciliation and habilitation; in other words, we seek to establish, among ourselves and others, a common ground for positive collective action and mutual empowerment.
We believe that those who are most directly affected by a problem should lead the struggle to address that problem, with the support of others who share their concerns and respect their agency. This is why our coalition is led by people on death row, with support from volunteers and community organizations.
Our ultimate goal is to abolish the death penalty without fueling mass incarceration, by dismantling the structures that give rise to violence on all levels. In our view, the only meaningful alternative to the death penalty is social justice, and this can only be achieved through reciprocal education and community healing.
In working towards our ultimate goal, we have established five subcommittees:
- Legal and Social-Political Subcommittee
- School to Prison Pipeline Subcommittee
- Revolutionizing Domestic Violence Subcommittee
- Prison Conditions and Health Care Reform Subcommittee
- Faith Communities Subcommittee
The Coalition invites and welcomes any assistance, suggestions, proposals, and/or recommendations that will create communities and provide spaces for reciprocal education, community healing, transformative and restorative justice, habilitation, and conciliation.
Find out more!
- Read an article by inside R.E.A.C.H. members, Abu Ali Abdur’Rahman and Derrick Quintero, in the Fall 2012 edition of the Riverbend prison newspaper, The Maximum Times, here.
- Read a January 2013 blog post about R.E.A.C.H. by Lisa Guenther here.
- Read a statement about R.E.A.C.H. written by Derrick Quintero for Spring 2013 The Inside Out Newsletter here.
- Read a July 2014 blog post about R.E.A.C.H. by Tatiana McInnis here.