Ending Mass Criminalization


Policy 1: Decriminalization

Police are the frontline enforcers of a criminal justice system that incentivizes incarceration. While much attention has been paid to police practices, there has been less focus on the foundation of police authority — the laws which give police and courts wide discretion to arrest and incarcerate people for offenses that have nothing to do with public safety. Read more »


Policy 2: Municipal Court Reforms

Under most state law, courts can issue bench warrants for the arrest of anyone who does not appear for a court date after being ticked for a violation or given a summonses. As a result, too many individuals serve jail time for parking infractions or park code violations. Incarceration is not an appropriate response to the failure to pay a fine or appear in court for a minor or civil offense. Yet municipalities across the country use these fines, as well as the additional court fees and fines that pile up when people are unable to pay the original penalty, to supplement city and county budgets. Read more »


Policy 3: Immigration Detainer Policies

Federal immigration policies also impact how communities are policed. The Obama administration detains and deports more than 400,000 people every year, separating countless families, funneling thousands of children into the foster care system, and hurting local economies that rely on immigrant labor. Federal immigration enforcement increasingly relies on local law enforcement - personnel, jails, and local police budgets are used to carry out punitive and overzealous enforcement programs. Read more »


Policy 4: Diversion Programs

Historically, incarceration has been used as a one-size-fits-all solution for every person who is arrested by the police. This over-reliance on incarceration has meant that millions of people have had critical underlying issues, such as addiction or mental health concerns, go unaddressed. Many of these people are accused of low-level offenses and are stuck in a cycle of recidivism, repeatedly arrested and incarcerated as their issues worsen. Read more »


Policy 5: Racial Impact Tool for all criminal justice legislation

Many policies in this country unfairly disadvantage people of color and result in large swaths of Black and Brown communities being harassed, arrested, and shipped off to prison. While we no longer have laws that explicitly target or discriminate against Black and Brown people, many laws which seem neutral have negative effects on Black and Brown communities. Each new law and policy can compound the problem of racism in our criminal justice system and harm communities of color. Too often, elected officials and policy makers make decisions that end up having severe negative consequences for Black and Brown communities. Read more »