I had divided my to-do list into three categories: short-, medium-, and long-term. Short-term meant “a couple of weeks,” medium-term meant “a couple of years,” and long-term meant “as long as it takes.” It was that far side of the ledger where I wrote down the most intractable problems we were facing—the ones you can’t expect to solve on your own, over a term, perhaps even over a career. That’s where the most important work is. That’s where you take the bigger view—not of the political moment but of the historical one. The core problems of the criminal justice system are not new. There are thinkers and activists and leaders who have been fighting to change the system for generations. I got to meet many of them when I was a child. You don’t add the intractable problems to the list because they are new, but because they are big, because people have been fighting against them for dozens—maybe even hundreds—of years, and that duty is now yours. What matters is how well you run the portion of the race that is yours.
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