Maya Moore has established herself as a champion on the basketball court with the Minnesota Lynx. Moore is also one of many WNBA players that is championing civil rights as well.
In the latest episode of Jerry Stackhouse’s First Step series at The Players’ Tribune, Moore talked about her efforts in the fight for criminal justice reform. The episode begins with Moore mentioning how her view of those who have been incarcerated has changed.
I lived in a…kind of a middle class home. And I didn’t really have a lot of experience with the justice system or prisons or really being aware of that world.
My perception has changed from thinking, if someone’s in jail, they’re supposed to be. To, there’s a lot of factors that’s not that simple.
It began by mentioning the case of Jonathan Irons, who according to an advocacy site fighting for his release, was arrested as a teenager in the late 1990s for a shooting in a burglary case in Jefferson City, Missouri.
The site mentions, among many other things, that none of the evidence gathered in the case could be connected to Irons. Moore, who first heard about Irons’ case from her godparents, also believes the criminal justice system railroaded Irons.
The more you looked into his case, there’s just so many things that were done wrong with his conviction and how he was charged.
Irons himself got a phone call from Moore, Stackhouse, and Reggie Williams – her godfather. He was thankful and hoped the episode would bring more awareness to the case.
I get pretty worked up when I see injustice.
She talked about how Irons has become an extended part of her family and hoped that she would inspire others to also want to strive for the same things Moore is. The personal connection of Moore the Irons case, she said is when the situation really hit home for her.
For too many generations, we’ve thrown away people. Especially young men of color. And we just can’t keep running our society in that way.
–Miriam Krinsky, Executive Director, Fair and Just Prosecution
We have, by far, the highest population of people in prison – around the world. That’s not something that I think we can be proud of.
And if we don’t protect and fight for the most vulnerable in our community, what kind of community are we?
Moore encouraged people to be active by doing research on who the prosecutors in one’s community are, such as a district attorney or an attorney general. Mark Dupree, the D.A. for Wyandotte County, Kansas in the Kansas City metro area, was featured for this episode.
There’s always a point in the process where somebody can step up and do the right thing, and make sure that the integrity of our justice system is being upheld.
Toward the episode’s close, Moore urged that the issue of prosecutorial and criminal justice reform is something that can just as easily affect someone in anyone’s family as it has affected Irons.
At the end of the day, I think that’s when we win, and will be able to lead and really restore the health of our communities.
In addition, Moore, Dupree, and Krinsky co-wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today to further reiterate why criminal justice reform has to take place. They mentioned the mindset that some prosecutors have where they tally their wins and losses in cases as if it were a win and loss record in sports.
The words did express optimism that criminal justice reform could take shape in the form of newly elected prosecutors across the country and an overall wave of change that is overtaking the nation.
Among what was mentioned in the USA Today op-ed – was how prosecutors are refusing to take lower-tier drug cases with the acknowledgement that these types of cases affect the inner cities and communities of color the most. Also – bail reform, and the acknowledgement that some people are simply incarcerated because they cannot afford the cost of bail. They also praised the new wave of prosecutors for believing that in the vast majority of cases that children are treated like children, not adults, in a fair criminal justice system.
The words closed with a message to prosecutors – to stop treating their success like a basketball team does wins and losses and start looking at if the justice system truly is fair for everyone and if it is doing everything it can to protect those who have the most to lose.