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Independence Day Edition: Who Are We, As a Nation?

In this episode, Rick talks shop about prison politics, policies, and justice. He explores an ostracized childhood full of art and culture, and what it means to him to have raised himself out of childhood while inside, He shows us the anxiety of reentry and strategies that can help in becoming: your own therapist, your own parent, your own best self. His advice to others? Be like water.



Smart Justice Field Organizer for the ACLU of Michigan, is as complex as is any other human being. In his words, “just because something is complex, it doesn’t always equate to being complicated”.

Growing up in what would be called “The Hood” in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the biproduct on an interracial relationship, processing the life outside of himself proved to be very complex, and often just as complicated.

Succumbing to external social, economic, cultural, as well as emotional struggles, living as a low level drug dealer, at the age of 16 Richard was arrested and charged for his role in a drug related homicide. Automatically charged as an adult, upon conviction of 2nd degree murder and assault with intent to commit murder, Richard was sentenced to serve two terms of Life with the possibility of parole.

Upon his release in Nov. of 2017 Richard Griffin embarked upon the greatest tipping point in his life…his story’s next chapter. While striving to amass an army of Volunteers and Community Partner Organizations, Richard Griffin in his professional capacity is mobilizing the State in the ACLU’s efforts to eliminate racial disparities in the Criminal Legal System, and to cut the State of Michigan’s prison population in half in the next 6 years.

Personally, the next chapter of Richard’s life is continuing to unfurl before his very own eyes, in real time. No longer confined to Institutional Cells which he was once held, as he characterizes, “All of my senses have been… awakened”.

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