Senator Elizabeth Warren is not only introducing legislation for criminal justice reform, but she’s also hearing the needs directly from advocates fighting to change the system.

Blavity has received exclusive video from the Democratic senator from Massachusetts’ exchange during a roundtable discussion alongside local politicians and activists. The event, which took place on August 20, was held at the nonprofit organization Better Futures Minnesota

During the meeting, Warren, one of the Democratic candidates vying for the presidential nomination in 2020, discussed details about her plan to combat the injustices within the criminal justice system. 

“Justice is something as a country that we have to invest in to make it work," Sen. Warren said. 

Among the attendees was executive director of the Minnesota Freedom Fund Tonja Honsey, who shared her story as a formerly incarcerated prisoner.

Honsey, the first formerly incarcerated appointee to the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, also discussed the re-entry trauma that continues to haunt several former prisoners. 

“Mass incarceration is a national crisis…it's taking away any strength that the community has when we continue to take our people out and put them into incarceration," Honsey said. 

A few specific topics that the group discussed were the racial disparities in policing along with the treatment of women across the criminal justice system. 

Warren, 70, continued to urge the importance of helping changing standards while reflecting on her reform collaboration with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. 

In 2017, Senators Warren and Booker first introduced the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act,  which aims to change the treatment of women behind bars. Not only does the law ensure that women receive the necessary sanitary products, but that they also have the tools and resources to effectively return home to their families. 

Last week, Warren included details of her new plan that included calls for an end to the death penalty and cash bail systems. Additionally, it includes an increase in funding for public defender offices and additional steps for protection for the at-risk transgender population.

Kevin Reese, Director of Criminal Justice for Voices for Racial Justice, was among those in attendance to the roundtable discussion. He shared how his push for change began even during his 14-year prison sentence. 

“None of us are free until we are all free” Reese said. 

Watch the video below: