117 Civil and Human Rights Groups Release 2020 Justice Platform

The treatment of communities of color in the criminal-legal system is the most profound civil rights crisis facing America in the 21st century.

117 Civil and Human Rights Groups Release 2020 Justice Platform

WASHINGTON –The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Civil Rights Corps, and 115 civil rights and justice groups released a policy platform for the 2020 state and federal elections that proposes a unified vision for transforming our criminal-legal system into one that respects the humanity, dignity, and rights of all people.

“The U.S. incarcerates more people than any other developed nation, with more than 6.6 million people under some form of institutionalized restraint — an undue proportion of whom are Brown or Black. We simply cannot live up to the values we profess if we don’t end mass incarceration and eliminate the deep racial bias entrenched in the current system,” said Vanita Guptapresident and CEO of The Leadership Conference. “We offer this comprehensive roadmap to create a new way to approach public safety, rebalancing spending and prioritizing upfront investments in the communities that most urgently need them. It is time to remove the stain that has lingered on our democracy as a result of an excessively punitive system. The solutions we offer are actionable tools we can use to begin that process.”

“Throughout the history of this country, the American system of criminal punishment has been used to perpetuate white supremacy, promote inequality, and control marginalized people,” said Alec Karakatsanis, founder and executive director of Civil Rights Corps. “Vision for Justice lays out actionable policy solutions to begin dismantling those harmful systems and begin meaningful reinvestment in the communities that have been devastated by the system as it stands.”

The groups shared Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond with presidential candidates this past summer to offer critical policy guidance for drafting robust criminal-legal reform agendas. The 14 recommendations, listed below, are centered on three thematic issues: ensuring equity and accountability, building a restorative system of justice, and rebuilding communities.

The treatment of communities of color in the criminal-legal system is the most profound civil rights crisis facing America in the 21st century. This platform seeks to remove this moral stain on our democracy by offering specific, measurable steps to begin to transform the system.

I. Ensure Equity and Accountability in the Criminal-Legal System

  1. Create a new paradigm for public safety and policing.
  2. Create a new framework for pretrial justice.
  3. Ensure an effective right to counsel.
  4. Decriminalize poverty.
  5. Ensure accountability and transparency in prosecution.

II. Build a Restorative System of Justice

  1. End jails and prisons as we know them in America.
  2. Deprivatize justice.
  3. Dramatically reform sentencing policy.
  4. Support the children of incarcerated parents.
  5. Ease challenges to racial inequity and abolish slavery in prisons.

III. Rebuild Communities

  1. Rebalance spending priorities by investing in communities.
  2. Reimagine reentry, probation, and parole.
  3. Build a school-to-opportunity pipeline.
  4. End the War on Drugs.

Read Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

Civil Rights Corps is a non-profit organization dedicated to challenging systemic injustice in the American legal system through innovative civil rights litigation. CRC works with individuals accused and convicted of crimes, their families and communities, people currently or formerly incarcerated, activists, organizers, judges, and government officials to challenge mass human caging and to create a legal system that promotes equality and human freedom.