Criminal Justice System
The United States has the largest prison population of any developed country in the world. A disproportionate number of people in the nation’s prisons and jails are low-income, undereducated, low-level, nonviolent people of color with drug convictions. Our system of mass incarceration is due almost entirely to the War on Drugs and its disproportionate focus on low-income, people of color. The system must be reformed so that it is no longer racially and ethnically discriminatory and incorporates more alternatives to incarceration.
June 22, 2015 - Posted by Matthew Meyer
On June 16, the Senate rejected an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to restructure the military criminal justice system’s handling of sexual assault cases. The amendment, proposed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D. N.Y., incorporated provisions of the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), which the Senate also rejected as a standalone bill in March 2014.
May 20, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
With communities across the country calling for greater accountability of local law enforcement, a coalition of 34 civil rights, privacy, and media rights organizations on May 15 released shared civil rights principles for the use of body-worn cameras.
April 24, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
Sen. Ben Cardin, D. Md., and Rep. John Conyers, D. Mich., on April 22 reintroduced the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), which would prohibit profiling by federal, state, local, and Indian tribal law enforcement authorities on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
April 17, 2015 - Posted by Julie Faust
On April 15, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the need to reform civil asset forfeiture, a legal tool that has allowed law enforcement to seize $2.5 billion in cash from nearly 62,000 people without warrants or indictments since 2001.
March 19, 2015 - Posted by Julie Faust
On March 19, Rep. John Lewis, D. Ga., introduced the Voter Empowerment Act (H.R. 12), legislation that would combat voter exclusion, improve the administration of elections, and expand voter participation.
February 27, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 80 other national, state, and local organizations this week sent a letter to President Obama expressing their concerns with the administration’s Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity, released in December 2014.
February 19, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
An unlikely alliance of prominent conservative and progressive organizations today launched a new coalition to reform America’s criminal justice system.
February 11, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
A group of 32 civil and human rights, faith, and criminal justice reform groups on February 10 sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary to outline their shared principles for broad-based criminal justice reform.
January 16, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
A coalition of civil rights, faith, labor, media justice, and other groups from around the country this week wrote in support of further reforms to lower predatory prison phone rates.
October 31, 2014 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
New guidelines that sensibly reduce sentences for most drug trafficking offenses – approved unanimously in April by the United States Sentencing Commission – will go into effect on Saturday, November 1.
More Information On
Social Justice Brief: A Social Work Perspective on Drug Policy Reform - National Association of Social Workers
Reclaiming Our Rights: Reflections on Racial Profiling in a Post-9/11 America - Rights Working Group (2011)
The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs - The Sentencing Project
A 25-Year Quagmire: The War on Drugs and Its Impact on American Society - The Sentencing Project
Critical Condition: African American Youth in the Justice System (pdf) - Campaign for Youth Justice
Latest on criminal justice from Unfinished Business.
In The News
Recent news clips on this issue.