It has been a difficult few weeks full of changes and challenges for all of us, We want to send our best wishes to you, your friends, and to your family during these trying times.

One helpful things to do during a crisis is to keep connected and maintain a sense purpose. That’s why we’re excited to invite you to join us for the “Virtual Day of Empathy” on March 25. The Day of Empathy is a national day of action bringing criminal justice impacted people together in order to bring our combined power together to influence policymakers and policy across the country. We will be celebrating the fourth annual Day of Empathy event in Michigan — an event created by our national partners #cut50, a national nonprofit working to reduce the prison population by 50 percent by 2030.

As you might know, we had planned to hold an in-person Day of Empathy event on March 25, but our plans were drastically changed by the onset of the novel Coronavirus a little over a week ago. We are no longer hosting an in-person event, but thanks to a conferencing service called Zoom, we will still be hosting a virtual Day of Empathy and we want you to participate.

(If you’re not familiar with how to use Zoom, we’re including instructions at the end of this post)

We believe that by hosting this virtual Day of Empathy event we will, allow people to connect with each other about our criminal justice system at a time when separation and social distancing are really starting to make people feel disconnected and maybe even frustrated or lonely.

Over the last several years, we have built a really vibrant and strong community of people committed to changing the criminal justice system in Michigan. Right before this COVID-19 crisis started, we were on the brink of seeing several major pieces of reform legislation reach the floor including:

  • A groundbreaking Clean Slate expungement package
  • Legislation to implement the recommendations of the Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration
  • A new standard of care bill for pregnant incarcerated women

Each of these promising breakthroughs will be discussed by a panel during the virtual Day of Empathy, so we hope you will register to listen and take part in the conversation.

We are also very excited to include a panel with Aswad Thomas of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice in order to ensure that all people impacted by our criminal justice system have a voice in this discussion.

This event will be an opportunity to keep the momentum going and to create a strong strategic plan for making sure these legislative packages remain on the front-burner the minute our legislature officially goes back into session.

But most importantly, this will be a chance for all of us to be connected in a time of social distancing. We hope to see you on March 25.

Remember, you have to register in advance for any of the panels you want to participate in, registration links are included below.

Here are the event details:

To join us on March 25, all you will need is a connected computer and to have registered in advance for one or all of these events.

To join, simply click on the link for each panel you want to attend. You will have to register for each of the panels independently to participate in any particular panel. All events are listed in Eastern Standard Time. We hope to see you at all four panels. For more details on each panel, click on the link.


  1. Clean Slate – 10 a.m.

Register here. Panelists include:

  • Moderators: Safe & Just Michigan Outreach Director Troy Rienstra and Policy Analyst Josh Hoe
  • John Cooper – Executive Director, Safe & Just Michigan
  • Hakim Crampton – JustLeadershipUSA and Nation Outside
  • Jarett Ruffin, Impacted Activist



  1. Pregnancy in Prison: Standards of Care – 11:30 am EST

Register here. Panelists include:

  • Moderator: Natalie Holbrook – AFSC Michigan Criminal Justice Program
  • State Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor)
  • Siwatu Salama-Ra – Impacted Activist
  • Ashley Scott – Impacted Activist



  1. Conversation with Aswad Thomas of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice – 1 p.m.

Register here.




  1. Michigan Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration – 3 p.m.

Register here. Panelists include:

  • Bridget McCormack – Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice
  • Monica Jahner – A.R.R.O. Program Director, impacted task force member



Empathy Pledge

We are also asking that everyone take the empathy pledge at noon to stand in solidarity with our incarcerated community members. Join us by going live on any of your social profiles at this time and taking the Empathy Pledge with us. You can find the pledge here.


Thanks to Our Amazing Co-Sponsors

This event was only possible because of the support of our amazing co-sponsors, that list includes:

Thanks so much to all of you for helping with the fourth annual Day of Empathy!

We look forward to seeing every one of you during the virtual Day of Empathy on March 25!



How to use Zoom:

Using Zoom is easy, but it does require you to register for the event. Once you register and the time of the event nears, you will be sent an email invitation to join the Zoom conference. In the email, you will be provided a link to download the Zoom program onto your computer or phone, which will be used to show you the panel discussions. Zoom is a teleconferencing tool used by businesses and universities across the globe — and we use it for our own meetings — so we trust it to be safe and simple to use.

Once you click on the link in your email, the software launcher for Zoom will download. Once it is done downloading, click on the file and install the launcher. If you join the meeting before the host has joined, you will receive a message asking you to please wait for the host to begin the meeting. Once the host joins, the meeting is ready to begin, and the host will provide instructions from there.


If you would like to see these instructions in a short video, you can watch them here.



~Josh Hoe
Policy Analyst