Jun 27, 2024

Robin Hood Brings Poverty-Fighting Innovation to the Aspen Ideas Festival

Advocating for systemwide solutions to improve the criminal legal system

Over the past year, the number of people detained on Rikers Island has grown steadily. Research shows that arrests, convictions, and incarceration lead to dramatically diminished lifetime earnings, and factors like missed opportunities, inadequate reentry services, and social stigma contribute to this, forging a link between imprisonment and poverty. Families of the incarcerated bear this burden twofold, as both the parent and child are denied vital connections needed to form strong socioemotional foundations for future success.

That’s why Robin Hood takes a multi-pronged approach to criminal justice reform that aims to stave off poverty, prevent recidivism, and humanely prepare the incarcerated for life after prison. At the 2024 Aspen Ideas Festival, our CEO Rich Buery passionately shared our role in supporting programs that prioritize family unity and reimagine a criminal legal system beyond bars.

Watch the “Keeping Families Together” panel discussion here

Keeping Families Together: Panel Highlights

Robin Hood targets our grantmaking on evidence-based solutions that prevent young people from interacting with the criminal legal system, and support early childhood programs that facilitate healthy relations between children and their incarcerated parents.

At the Aspen Ideas Festival, Rich joined a panel titled “Keeping Family Together During Incarceration”  with Anne Penson, Executive Director of Women’s Initiatives at the NYC Department of Correction, and Jessica Seinfeld, Founder and President of GOOD+ Foundation, to discuss Robin Hood grantee Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s Family Connections program, which works with the Dept. of Corrections to create a unique space for incarcerated parents at Rikers Island and their children to bond. After participating in CMOM visits, incarcerated mothers showed a 68% reduction in behavioral incidents, and their children also exhibited fewer behavioral problems.

Watch the “Reimagining a Justice System Beyond Barspanel discussion here

Reimagining a Justice System Beyond Bars: Panel Highlights

Robin Hood also advocates for system-wide reforms and policies that reduce the lasting economic and social harms of prior involvement in the criminal legal system, from parole reform, to the Clean Slate Act, and fair housing policies for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Rich spoke alongside artist and activist John Legend on the “Reimagining a Justice System Beyond Bars” panel at Aspen, which focused on rising jail populations, particularly those held pre-trial. The panel highlighted the violence and trauma within jails and their detrimental effects on family bonds. Buery, Legend, and other panelists explored solutions for reducing jail populations and promoting humane treatment and rehabilitation.

Robin Hood’s Broader Vision at the Aspen Ideas Festival

Robin Hood’s presence at the Aspen Ideas Festival was strongly felt, not only through Rich’s impactful speeches but also through contributions from other key figures. Board Chair Dina Powell McCormick, Leadership Council Stephanie Ruhle, and former Robin Hood CEO, Maryland Governor Wes Moore, all delivered compelling talks that underscored Robin Hood’s commitment to fighting poverty and fostering community resilience.

By investing in programs and policies that approach criminal justice reform with humanity, Robin Hood is helping to create a brighter future for incarcerated people and their families.