The spread of COVID-19 is a public health emergency that is especially urgent for the 2.3 million human beings caged in U.S. jails and prisons. These institutions are already dangerous and unhealthy places, even outside of a global pandemic, with overcrowding, deplorable conditions, and inadequate healthcare access making them a hotbed for infectious diseases. Based on everything we know, these conditions will cause COVID-19 to continue spreading like wildfire—and the consequences will be devastating. At this crisis point, decarcerating jails and prisons is a legal, moral, and humanitarian imperative. We recommend that all government officials immediately take the actions that are outlined in the documents below. Please note: these documents include real-time examples of actions taken across the country, but these examples are far shy of the dramatic, carceral action needed now. We are ready to support officials at all levels to protect people in the criminal system during this crisis. If you need additional assistance, please contact our policy counsel Thea Sebastian (email@example.com).
While diversion programs have the potential to further rehabilitative and de-carceral goals, there are significant risks to these programs. At the same time, some jurisdictions have adopted diversion programs that are providing free services to community members who need assistance. These programs coordinate diverse stakeholders, changing district attorney and police culture in the process. They use a model that prioritizes harm reduction and de-carceration. These programs, not their exploitative, pay-for-play counterparts, should be our goal. The documents in this section set forth principles and practices for building diversion programs that truly help communities.
With local, state, and federal elections approaching, candidates are presenting bold ideas regarding a wide variety of issues—promising structural change to cater to their progressive base. Yet, no one candidate has proposed real, visionary thinking regarding how we approach justice in America. It’s time to think as boldly about justice reform–and our goal is to create the context for them to do that. Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond is a report jointly released with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Each night, more than 6 in 10 individuals sitting in local jails are presumptively innocent. They are fathers, mothers, children and loved ones who have not been convicted, but are simply awaiting their day in court. And, in too many cases, they are there simply because they could not pay a fixed sum of money. At Civil Rights Corps, we have developed a set of policy materials that can help policymakers, advocates and others end this epidemic of wealth-based detention and create systems that truly maximize pretrial liberty. If you have any questions about a document, or require advice on an issue that is not addressed below, please be in touch. -Thea Sebastian, Policy Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org
Millions of people have had their driver’s licenses suspended, revoked, or otherwise restricted not because they are a risk to public safety, but simply because they could not pay a debt. At Civil Rights Corps, we have developed a set of policy resources that can help policymakers, advocates and others to end this deeply harmful and counterproductive practice. If you would like a resource that you do not see, or would like our assistance on campaign, please be in touch. - Thea Sebastian, Policy Counsel email@example.com