Giving Compass' Take:
- Sarah Staudt shares opportunities for advocates to make a difference in the criminal justice system in 2024.
- What role can you play in supporting effective criminal justice reform? Which of these areas ripe for reform can you tackle?
- Learn more about supporting criminal justice reform.
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In this year’s guide to winnable criminal justice reforms, we’ve added information on how Medicaid and Medicare laws can be changed to better serve people in reentry, and we’ve added a section on efforts around the country to legalize marijuana and decriminalize other drugs. As always, we’ve also updated our list of Winnable criminal justice reforms and added new example bills and resources where you can learn more.
While this briefing is not intended to be a comprehensive platform, we’ve curated this list to offer policymakers and advocates straightforward solutions that would have the greatest impacts on reducing incarceration and ameliorating harms experienced by those with a conviction history, without further investments in the carceral system. We have also included some talking points and resources that can be used to push back when carve-outs to criminal justice reforms (that is, categorical exclusions of people who would benefit from reforms) are being discussed.
Because each state’s criminal legal system varies so much — from law and procedures, the data collected, and even how the same words are defined — it can be difficult to apply lessons from other states to the same problem in one’s own. This guide is designed to facilitate the sharing of ideas and information across states. That said, while we point to multiple bills, model legislation, and regulations in this document, we also recognize that many of these examples reflect compromise and could be strengthened or made more comprehensive. This information is intended to serve as a resource as you determine which problems are a priority in your state and which lessons from elsewhere are most useful.
These 32 reforms will reduce the number of people behind bars, make communities safer, and take steps to address long-standing racial inequities in the system.
The reforms focus on nine areas:
- Expanding alternatives to criminal legal system responses to social problems;
- Reducing the number of people entering the “revolving doors” of jail and prison;
- Improving sentencing structures and release processes to encourage timely and successful releases from prison;
- Reducing the footprint of probation and parole systems and supporting success on supervision;
- Protecting incarcerated people and families from exploitation;
- Promoting physical and mental health among incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people;
- Giving all communities equal voice in how our justice system works;
- Setting people up to succeed upon release; and
- Eliminating relics of the harmful and racist “war on drugs.”
Read the full article about criminal justice reforms by Sarah Staudt at Prison Policy Initiative.