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.
November 21, 2013 - Posted by Hannah Cornfield
With more than two million people behind bars in the United States, Blacks incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Whites, and 95 percent of the formerly incarcerated reentering their communities, civil rights advocates say our nation’s criminal justice system is in serious need of reform.
DOJ Announces 'Smart on Crime' Initiative to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System
August 12, 2013 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
This morning in a speech before the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the U.S. Department of Justice would avoid charging low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who are not tied directly to large-scale trafficking organizations, gangs, or cartels with crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentencing.
March 21, 2013 - Posted by Monica We
This week marks the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark Supreme Court decision establishing that under the Constitution states are required to provide a lawyer to criminally charged defendants who cannot otherwise afford one.
March 21, 2013 - Posted by Philomena Ogalo
With the passage last week of a bill to repeal the death penalty, Maryland will become the sixth state to end capital punishment in the last six years and the first below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Supreme Court Says Mandatory Life Sentences without Parole for Juvenile Offenders Are Cruel and Unusual Punishment
June 26, 2012 - Posted by Willie Roberson
On June 25th, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole for offenders who were younger than 18 when their crimes were committed violate the Constitution’s 8th Amendment provision prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment.
Civil Rights Groups and Conservative Leaders Urge FCC to End Practice of Predatory Prison Phone Rates
May 21, 2012 - Posted by Avril Lighty
April 28, 2012 - Posted by Ron Bigler
September 16, 2011 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
At a press conference this week designed to push Congress and the Obama administration to pass the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011 (ERPA), the Rights Working Group released a new report advocating not only for the prohibition of racial profiling but for greater oversight of law enforcement with regard to civil rights protections.
July 29, 2011 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Earlier this week at its 102nd Annual Convention in Los Angeles, the NAACP issued a resolution entitled, “A Call to End the War on Drugs, Allocate Funding to Investigate Substance Abuse Treatment, Education, and Opportunities in Communities of Color for A Better Tomorrow.” While the text of the resolution will not be available until its national board approves it in October, a press statement following the vote criticized the drug war as discriminatory, costly, and counterproductive.
July 21, 2011 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Federal prosecutors will no longer charge crack cocaine defendants under a previous and more punitive law simply because their conduct predated the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA), Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a memorandum last week.
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.
A Blog by The Leadership Conference Education Fund
By John Hamilton, a Fall 2015 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern On November 1, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R. Wisc., made rounds on morning talk shows laying out his vision as the newly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. One t...
Earlier this week, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights shared a message from Terri Vest, who teaches 11th grade English, social studies, and online psychology courses at Twinfield Union School, a pre-K-12 school in Vermont.
Over the weekend, California became the first state to ban the use of a racist team name or mascot, a name that has come under pressure most visibly in the nation’s capital because of the name of the city’s professional football team. The California Racial Mascots Act, signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday, won the praise of the Change the Mascot campaign. In a joint statement from Jackie Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, and Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation Representative, the campaign praised California “for standing on the right side of history by bringing an end to the use of the demeaning and damaging R-word slur in the state’s schools.”
When Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson were nominated for Emmy’s this year in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category, they were only the sixth and seventh Black women to ever be nominated for that award.
When Davis accepted her first-ever Emmy Sunday night, she also became the first of those seven women to actually win. Her acceptance speech, one that invoked abolitionist Harriet Tubman, was a powerful reminder that, as Davis said, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”
In 1971, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day” to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th amendment – guaranteeing women the right to vote – and to honor the brave women and men who fought for women’s suffrage. Today, on the 95th anniversary of the 19th amendment, the right to vote seems unalienable and fundamental to any democracy – but nearly 100 years ago, many Americans didn’t think women should have that right.
Early this July, six local transportation organizations from across the country gathered in D.C. for the Transportation Equity Caucus (TEC) first national equity convening – a two-day event of trainings, story-sharing, strategizing, and Hill visits with key transportation stakeholders. Each of the organizations in attendance —MORE2, Puget Sound Sage/Tacoma-Pierce County Equity Network, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Urban Habitat, Services for Independent Living, and WISDOM—had received grants of up to $25,000 from TEC in April to support projects that advance affordable and accessible transportation in their communities, making this convening an opportunity to share successes, learn from each other, and plan for the months of advocacy ahead.
35 Years Later: The U.S. Still Hasn’t Ratified CEDAW, But Local Activists are Working to Make a Difference for Women and Girls
Though we’re sometimes regarded as an exemplar of human rights, the United States stands out internationally today for one disappointing – and shameful – reason.
That’s because 35 years after President Carter signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international human rights treaty intended to bring equality to women around the world, the United States still hasn’t ratified it.
By Hunter Davis, a Summer 2015 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern Earlier this month, the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) held a briefing – and released a groundbreaking new report – on the cumulative costs of abusive lending, a ...
By Julia Burzynski, a Summer 2015 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern During the month of June, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights partnered with the Immigrant Heritage Month Campaign to celebrate and commemorate the history...
By Hunter Davis and Matthew Meyer, Summer 2015 Leadership Conference Education Fund Interns In a historic 5-4 decision on June 26, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. The ruling extended the rig...