The Berkshire Eagle
March 1, 2023

Courage takes many forms.

The members of the women’s aftercare group at Second Street Second Chances demonstrated such in sharing their personal stories, their hurt and their emotional vulnerability in a session with District Attorney Timothy Shugrue — and ultimately with the public. (“Women facing a ‘vicious cycle’ of jail and substance use disorder wanted DA Timothy Shugrue to hear their stories,” Eagle, Feb. 23.) In doing so, they raised our collective awareness that people going through the criminal justice system are, in fact, people, not just names on a docket. Not one of them complained about their punishment. They merely wished to retain their humanity during and after the process.

Formerly incarcerated people tell us that when they reenter their communities, they want to be responsible and contributing neighbors — and be treated as such. As a community, we can start by listening to their stories and learning from them. My sincere thanks to the participants for what was undoubtedly a hard conversation to have.

Kudos to DA Shugrue for taking the time to listen to people whose voices have not been heard and to do so with empathy and an appreciation for the many ways the criminal justice system can affect people long after release. His willingness to hear those voices, together with his motivation for the system to deliver justice in a thoughtful and individual way, made it clear to those in conversation that he is the right audience in their hope to effect change.

Mark Gold, Williamstown

The writer is board president of Second Street Second Chances Inc.