Like so many others, my heart is heavy from learning of the tragic losses of two wonderful people this past week. These two were not just good people, they were amazingly good people. And like so many times when tragedy strikes, we are left with loving memories but deep feelings of loss, sadness and even anger.
Tiffany Joslyn, Deputy Chief Counsel, Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations for Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee in the United States House of Representatives was killed in a car accident this past weekend along with her brother. Badly injured is Tiffany’s sister-in-law. So please, send prayers and support all around for Tiffany’s family. Words fail to surface in sufficient quality or quantity when considering Tiffany’s contributions to the country. A noted child advocate who also focused on issues of inequality and injustice, she was an ardent and very bright policy adviser to members of Congress as well as many advocacy organizations with whom she interacted. Tiffany met with us recently in the Rayburn House Office Building to strategize on juvenile justice and related policies. During those conversations her experience and wisdom were so evident — we all looked to her leadership and counsel as strategies and ideas were proposed. She was delightfully articulate, patient, and insightful. Her heart was so open to finding meaningful, impactful solutions to the seemingly intractable problems young people of color face in our country. Members and staff colleagues in Congress as well as a myriad of organizations and other friends will miss her so very much.
Another shocking and tragic story came from Louisville, Kentucky last week. Raycinnio Rankin, a young man who had turned his life around to become a valued and respected member of Kentucky’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and their Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee, was found shot to death. Circumstances are unclear and not much is publicly known at this time. Raycinnio became an active, respected member of Kentucky’s efforts to reduce juvenile crime as well as to right the social imbalances occurring as a result of various system-related inequities at state and national levels. The Advisory Board noticed his leadership potential and introduced Raycinnio to the Coalition for Juvenile Justice through various regional and national meetings. He always had something meaningful to say. As meetings were held across the country, Raycinnio represented Kentucky very well. He truly wanted to be a voice for those without opportunity. Convicted of a felony in 1998, Raycinnio’s efforts to change ultimately resulted in Kentucky’s Governor Steve Beshear issuing a full pardon to him some 3 months ago prior to the Governor leaving office. Raycinnio was driven to lead by example. He often shared the mistakes he’d made with others at risk of similar circumstances. He had started his own business and felt driven to spend time in neighborhoods where others were going down the same path he’d taken a decade earlier. Hopefully, Louisville law enforcement officials will quickly solve this crime and help his family heal where possible.
These two warm, generous, compassionate, deeply concerned human beings were heavyweights on the “good” side of life’s equation. The world seems tilted a little bit more to the contrary these days following their tragic and untimely deaths. Please put a very heartfelt moment of reflection in your days ahead for Tiffany and Raycinnio as well as their families. Heaven has some beautiful new flowers these days — while in our world we look to console each other and perhaps seek new voices to join the chorus calling for more positive futures for our youth.