Three years ago, I traveled from Austin to Sacramento, California, to attend Survivors Speak—an annual event hosted by the Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ), which brings together the largest gathering of crime survivors in the United States. The event allows crime survivors to share stories, honor loved ones, and advocate for change.
During that first trip to the California State Capitol, I discovered a new victims’ movement—one where a diverse group of survivors was urging legislators to prioritize rehabilitation over punishment, and pushing for investments in crime prevention and treatment rather than more spending on prisons and jails. This was the first time I self-identified as a crime survivor and spoke openly about losing my sister to gun violence. People like me from all across the U.S. were there to turn their healing into action.
Since that day, I’ve been impatiently waiting for Survivors Speak to come to Texas! In the meantime, I shared my story in the first-ever national survey of victims’ views on safety and justice, and I joined ASJ in presenting the survey’s findings at the 2016 Texas Victim Services Association Research Symposium. All of this was leading up to today, when I was thrilled to join crime survivors from across the state at the Texas Capitol for the first Survivor Speak Texas.
Survivors Speak attendees heard from State Senator John Whitmire, Chair of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, and State Representative James White, Chair of the House Committee on Corrections, along with survivors from across Texas. We then gathered in the Capitol rotunda to participate in a healing circle to honor loved ones and advocate for new public safety priorities that truly prevent crime, reduce incarceration, and better support survivors.
Survivors Speak is part of a powerful and necessary survivor movement that’s working to strengthen communities and families, and I’m so excited to see how it grows in Texas.
For more information about the Alliance for Safety and Justice and their flagship event, Survivors Speak, visit www.allianceforsafetyandjustice.org.