Maya Moore is continuing to challenge systemic injustice even after a year in which the WNBA was perhaps the most outspoken American pro sports league and players faced repercussions for it.
The WNBA star with the Minnesota Lynx and four-time WNBA champion has become another athlete in a chorus of those deciding to publicly speak about criminal justice reform.
In an op-ed in USA Today last month, she and two other stated reformers — Mark Dupree, a Kansas district attorney, and Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor — asked for something to be done about the current American justice system.
As a professional athlete, an elected prosecutor, and a justice system leader, we work in the public eye and are privileged that our communities have bestowed tremendous trust in the work we seek to carry out. To live up to that trust, both on and off our respective “courts,” we believe that we need to bring a new vision to our justice system that moves beyond simply a result-driven finish line and instead brings a broader lens to promoting safe and healthy communities. We feel a responsibility to make the most of our platforms and our privilege by demanding that those around us -- those who come to our games to support us, those who voted for us, or those in our neighborhood who have high hopes that we will bring a higher level of thinking to our criminal justice system -- are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.
It wasn’t the first time she spoke about the topic. In July, she and three of her Lynx teammates gave a pregame press conference in which they spoke about police violence after Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were killed by officers. They wore black T-shirts that read “Change Starts With Us: Justice & Accountability.” She also recently released a video series for the Players’ Tribune highlighting justice issues.
“My perception has changed from thinking if someone’s in jail they’re supposed to be. To: there’s a lot of factors that’s not that simple,” she said during the video.
In the op-ed for USA Today, Moore pushed for fixing mandatory minimum sentences, focusing on treatment instead of incarceration for drug offenders and those suffering from mental illnesses, and better awareness of why people are jailed. She also hopes to end mass incarceration, as she told The Nation. In April she was highlighted by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as a “Champion For Change.”
In their op-ed, Morre, Dupree, and Kinsky wrote that they are excited by what they believe is a “change that we see sweeping the nation,” referencing newer elected officials they dubbed as “new visionaries” who are re-defining what it means to win. To Moore, “embracing these approaches is the only way that all of us will truly win.”
Moore has become a constant and important voice in the conversation about criminal justice reform, especially among professional athletes. Her continued advocacy in her offseason shows she has no intention of slowing down.
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