2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum FAQ


Who is hosting the Forum?

20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center

Founded in March 2015 with an eye toward the 2016 presidential election, we began with twenty Black Republicans and twenty black Democrats - the 20/20 Leaders of America (“20/20” or “20/20 Club”). We have grown into an invitation-only, bipartisan group of over eighty African American mayors, city, county and state officials, prosecutors and defense attorneys, political strategists, community leaders, activists, police chiefs and other law enforcement executives. 

In our first two years, we hosted listening sessions and public forums with the 2016 presidential candidates and national party representatives, inviting them to identify their proposed criminal justice reform platform with specific, measurable and articulable goals to be reached by the year 2020.  This effort resulted in the first of its kind programming, some of which can be seen here.  Since the 2016 election, we have expanded our activities to include research, local level reform, coalition building, advocacy and awareness at the federal, state and local level.  In 2018, we became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization under our new name – the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center.

20/20 is headed by Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ashley D. Bell, Esq., and Executive Director Candice S. Petty, Esq., a Board of Directors, and an Advisory Board.  We have a Republican Co-Chair, Rufus Montgomery, and a Democratic Co-Chair, Tishaura Jones.

Our mission is to empower local leaders to implement innovative and practical solutions to problems in the criminal justice system. We use an approach that is bipartisan and includes all relevant stakeholders. We are the only nationwide coalition of Black Republicans, Democrats and Independents focused on criminal justice reform. By building bipartisan relationships and hosting solution focused conversations, we are uniquely positioned to be a convener for criminal justice reform, activating relevant stakeholders to create solutions to injustice at the local level.

Benedict College

Founded in 1870, Benedict College is a private co-educational liberal arts institution and a Historically Black College & University in the capital of South Carolina, an early primary state that is frequently visited by all Presidential candidates. Benedict College, originally Benedict Institute, was founded 148 years ago as a new school for the recently freed people of African descent. Benedict Institute, operating in a former slave master’s mansion, was established, in the words of its founder, to prepare men and women to be a “power for good in society.” It is currently lead by President Roslyn Clark Artis.

Our official partners and co-hosts

Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina 

National Black Police Association 

African American Mayors Association 

National Black Caucus, Local Elected Officials 

National Black Caucus of State Legislators 

When and where does the forum take place?

Friday, October 25 – Sunday, October 27, 2019

Benedict College, Columbia, South Carolina

Who will be in the audience?

We will host over 300 African-American national, state and local elected officials and candidates, community leaders and activists, political strategists, movement leaders, law enforcement, attorneys and judges, business leaders, students and anyone that cares about criminal justice reform.  The Forum will also be live streamed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Our first Forum attracted over 3 million people watching from all over the globe.

What is the format of the Forum?

Each Presidential candidate will be given 10 minutes to speak to the audience and present their criminal justice reform platform with specific, measurable and articulable goals to be reached within his or her first term.  There will be 20 minutes dedicated to questions from the audience, and then 10 minutes of one-on-one with one of our 20/20 Leaders and our Moderator.  This will allow each participant the opportunity to fully explain their platform, engage with the audience, and address any questions.  We have named this event the “Second Step Presidential Justice Forum”, asking each participant to focus on what’s next now that the First Step Act has been passed. 

Additionally, while the movement for criminal justice reform has grown to address a multitude of problems, we have chosen to focus on these five issues:

The School to Prison Pipeline

The Criminalization of Poverty

The War on Drugs & Mass Incarceration

Police Officers & Use of Force

Barriers to Reentry for the Formerly Incarcerated

The three actors within the criminal justice system that exercise the most discretion (and thus can enact the most reform and change) in these areas are: 1) prosecutors 2) K-12 teachers, administrators & principals, 3) police chiefs and other law enforcement executives. Presidential candidates will not only be asked how they plan to address each of these policy areas, but how they will empower these actors with the most discretion to enact reform.

Additionally, we will feature an informative panel discussion of leaders in the technology industry at the intersection of criminal justice and artificial intelligence.  The presidential candidates will each be asked to weigh in on how artificial intelligence can play a role in criminal justice reform, and how programs that teach incarcerated individuals technical skills and how to code, algorithms and risk assessments, and diversity in tech (among other important topics) can be further improved and supported in their administration.

What is the “South Carolina HBCU Straw Poll?”

At the end of the Forum, each registered Forum attendee will be allowed to vote in a partisan straw poll, choosing which candidate he or she believes presented the most effective criminal justice reform platform. This is our “Drum Major for Justice” poll that we also featured in our first Forum. There will be a ballot for Democratic Candidates, and a ballot for Republican candidates.

What is new is our “South Carolina HBCU Straw Poll” – in the weeks leading up to and then after the Forum, all students and alumni of the eight HBCUs in South Carolina* will vote online for the presidential candidate that best addresses their concerns on all issues facing African-Americans, not solely limited to criminal justice reform. There will be a ballot for Democratic Candidates, and a ballot for Republican candidates.

*Claflin University, South Carolina State University, Clinton College, Denmark Technical College, Benedict College, Allen University, Vorhees College and Morris College.

How do I attend?

Tickets are available at 2019PJF.eventbrite.com.  The Forum will also be live streamed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Who should I contact about partnership, sponsorship or further questions?

Please contact our Executive Director Candice Petty at Candice@2020club.org

 (c) Copyright 2019 | 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software