Recognize and eliminate the disparate impact that the criminal justice system has on communities of color and the poor. End the over-criminalization and over-incarceration of poor people and of people of color. Eliminate unaffordable fines and fees that send poor people to jail. Reinstate voting rights and eligibility for safety-net programs for ex-offenders upon their parole. Help ex-offenders to rebuild and keep their families together.

Criminal Justice Reform: Good for Families, Communities, and the Economy

America’s criminal justice system serves as a major structural barrier to economic inclusion of people of color and the poor. Incarceration causes financial hardship for families and communities, keeping them from economic participation and security, and placing tremendous economic burdens on federal, state, and local governments. Building a criminal justice system that is more equitable and focused on prevention and rehabilitation is essential for communities of color and under-resourced communities, and for America’s long-term economic health and prosperity.

The Economic Benefits of an Equitable Criminal Justice System

  • Substantial state and local savings from alternatives to incarceration
  • A more productive workforce and stronger economy
  • Decreased poverty and unemployment, especially among communities of color

Key Challenges to Criminal Justice Reform

  • Racial profiling and bias in policing practices
  • Misuse of prosecutorial discretion resulting in inequitable sentencing practices
  • Overly harsh school discipline policies leading to the school-to-prison pipeline
  • Barriers that keep formerly incarcerated individuals and their families from full community integration

Strategies to Reform the Criminal Justice System

  • Use racial impact statements for legislation affecting sentencing, probation, or parole policies
  • Implement mental health and substance abuse programs according to best practices and incorporate the use of trauma- and healing-informed care in justice facilities
  • End the use of criminal background checks for employment for qualified workers
  • Eliminate the use of highly subjective and punitive school discipline policies that place youth in a school-to-prison pipeline

Explore our other priority issues for Election 2018: Immigration | Health Care | Civic Engagement

To get involved and stay up-to-date on the latest news and action opportunities, join with us to make families heard.

Have ideas, resources, or opportunities to share? Send them to

Actions & Resources