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We're back with another episode of our Hard Truths series looking at systemic racism in the U.S. Today, we're looking at the criminal justice system. Specifically, what happens when people of color make it out of that system and try to rebuild their lives.

People of color are disproportionately imprisoned in the U.S. Black people are incarcerated five times more than white people, Hispanics nearly twice as likely as white people to end up behind bars. They also face longer sentences and harsher punishments which can make finding a job and rebuilding a life outside of prison much harder.

Guests: New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado and Justin Cordova.

Credits: "Axios Today" is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. This episode was produced by Nuria Marquez Martinez and edited by Alexandra Botti. Jeanne Montalvo is our sound engineer. Special thanks to Axios Executive Editor Sara Kehaulani Goo, Hard Truths Editor Michele Salcedo, and Executive Producer Dan Bobkoff.

Go deeper

May 21, 2021 - Podcasts

Israel and Hamas agree to ceasefire

After 11 days, the fighting between Israel and Hamas will end. Both the Israeli cabinet and Hamas approved a ceasefire yesterday.

  • Plus, the latest from Capitol Hill this week.
  • And, an unusually active hurricane season ahead.
Updated May 25, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on criminal justice reform

On Tuesday, May 25, as part of Axios' Hard Truths series, Axios justice & race reporter Russell Contreras and business reporter Hope King unpacked how the pattern of sentencing disparities for people of color affects people from childhood to adulthood, as well as policy initiatives for reform, featuring Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and The Ladies of Hope Ministries founder Topeka K. Sam.

Rep. Bass discussed the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, racial inequities in the criminal justice system, and the impact of protests on moving the legislative needle.

  • On looking at income inequality as a component of criminal justice reform: "The greatest disparity is really when it comes to the ability of people to defend themselves and to get proper legal representation. So if we look at our criminal justice system, income inequality is key in terms of how sentences and people are able to avoid incarceration."
  • On the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act: "The most important part of the bill is that the bill that holds officers accountable...As a country, we are tired and we are horrified in seeing videotape after videotape."

Topeka K. Sam unpacked sentencing disparity in America, as well as her advocacy for incarcerated women of color.

  • On rethinking the approach to criminal justice: "We can hold people accountable while healing people so that we don't have this cycle of abuse."
  • How retroactively applying laws could change the lives of many who have been incarcerated: "If we make those laws retroactive, the laws that we have already identified and acknowledge are harmful, then we'll be able to free people who have been incarcerated 20, 30 years."

Axios Chief People Officer Dominique Taylor hosted a View from the Top segment with YouTube Head of Human Rights Content Partnerships Malika Saada Saar.

  • "We have to understand the ways in which the use of phones and video changed our conversation around police brutality. We see this at a global level where digitally connected countries are able to be a place where phones are used and the abuse can be recorded."

Thank you YouTube for sponsoring this event.

Updated 2 mins ago - Science

NTSB probes crash that killed 10 in Alabama as storm hits Southeast, Midwest

Flash-flooding in Bloomington, Indiana, on Saturday. Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Sunday that it's sent a team to Alabama to help investigate a fiery multi-vehicle weekend crash that killed 10 people, including nine children.

The big picture: Saturday's crash, south of Montgomery, occurred amid a tropical depression that left 13 people dead in Alabama as it triggered flash floods and spawned tornadoes that razed "dozens of homes" in the Southeast over the weekend, per AP. Parts of the Midwest, including Indiana and Chicago, where a tornado struck late Sunday.