By Susan Stevens

Click on the below link to a video from Spectrum News, a local Rochester, NY TV station, featuring one of our members, Carolyn Delvecchio Hoffman, who was elected to the Monroe County Legislature last year.

We at SDUSA are thrilled to share a glimpse into the compassion-powered labor of our endorsee Carolyn Delvecchio Hoffman, elected in November of 2021 to serve District 25 on the Monroe County Legislature. In the linked video, Carolyn is standing with her fellow parole justice advocates, pushing for elder parole reform, so that inmates 55 and older who’ve been incarcerated for at least 15 years can have their cases reviewed by the parole board, and be considered for release.

Also a restorative justice advocate, Carolyn rightly points out that our criminal justice system does not center victims — does not ask victims (in her words), “What do you need for this to be made right?” We progressives are often maligned as “weak on crime” because of the mistaken assumption that fear of punishment is the basis for law-abiding behavior.

In contrast, as a new mother, I learned from attachment-parenting proponent Dr. William Sears that a person who grows up immersed in love has a built-in sense of total rightness within themselves, and between themselves and those around them. When something happens to knock that sense of rightness off-kilter, they know enough about how it feels to be in right relationship with the world, that their immediate instinct is to take the steps that bring things back into alignment. People who grow up in various situations of generational lack have a human right, at any age, to experience that center of love, joy and peace that connects all of humanity. They have a right to learn empathy by being the object of intense empathy flowing toward them.

They also have the right — as do those who were victims of their previous behaviors born out of their sense of wrongness or dirtiness, and who wish to be contacted — to a time of coming together for listening and restitution. Victims who wish to, have a right to tell those who’ve wronged them how they’ve been impacted, and what the perpetrators can do to alleviate their pain. Our justice system should be a help in restoring right relations between people, and not a hindrance.

Monroe County and all of us are blessed to have Carolyn working to make this a reality!

Susan Stevens is the Chair of the Kansas City, Kansas chapter of Social Democrats USA.

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