Many people see the criminal justice system as a necessity for any well-functioning society. But in recent years, the system has been under scrutiny from many communities in America. Locally, the different neighborhoods of Sacramento have come out to express concerns about how the justice system has affected them. One such event to voice those concerns was held at the Fruitridge Elementary School on July 29th. The “It’s Our Time” community forum seeked to help educate people about government reinvestment into their own community instead of the prison system. They aimed to accomplish this through statistics and personal stories.

A few dozen people attended the events. It was an ethnically diverse event with mostly African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-American and White people in attendance. Most of the people who attended had some experience with the prison system. Some have been in prison for decades while other have family members who went to prison. Everyone had something to say about how the criminal justice system has affected their lives.

“[The purpose of this event is to] talk with the community about the impact of criminal justice so we can work together to make a change in the criminal justice system,” said Pastor Dee Emmert, manager of the event. “It helps the community because our voices individually are not strong but when we come together we are a force to be reckoned with. [We are] also informing our community how they can vote and how they can have an impact on their community.”

Voting was one of the major themes of the event. People were givens flyers with the contact information of their community representatives such as the Sheriff and District Attorney. They were highly encouraged to call, email, and contact their representatives in any way possible to voice their opinions. People were also educated on what their rights are within the criminal justice system, particularly for parolees. In the end, many resources were given to the attendees on how to improve their community and themselves.