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.
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.
June 6, 2011 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has endorsed a limited form of retroactive application of sentencing guidelines designed to take into account the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA), which reduced the discriminatory sentencing disparity between powder cocaine and crack cocaine offenses.
May 25, 2011 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
A group of seven prominent national civil rights organizations that includes The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to support the retroactive application of a new set of sentencing guidelines that accompany the implementation of the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA), which reduced the discriminatory sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses.
May 24, 2011 - Posted by Avril Lighty
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that overcrowding in California prisons, which has led to grossly unsanitary conditions and inadequate access to medical and mental health care, violates constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
March 28, 2011 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Employers are discriminating against millions of Americans with criminal records, according to a report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
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
In The News
Recent news clips on this issue.