117 Civil Rights Advocacy Groups Commit to Justice Platform for 2020 Election

By Shani Saxon Sep 06, 2019

Activists moved the ball on Thursday (September 5) with the release of a new justice policy platform titled, Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Civil Rights Corps and 115 other civil rights and criminal justice reform groups came together to unveil a plan for the 2020 state and federal elections that seeks to create “a new paradigm for public safety that respects the humanity, dignity and human rights of all people.”

In a statement, Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, stressed the urgency of reform. “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,” she said. “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.”

The platform outlines “specific, measurable steps to begin to transform the system,” and it covers reforms to policing (like “create a new framework for pretrial justice” and “decriminalize poverty”), restorative justice (“dramatically reform sentencing policy” and "end jails and prisons as we know them in America”) and community practices (“end the War on Drugs” and “build a school-to-opportunity pipeline”).

The organizations say they shared the platform with presidential candidates over the summer to offer “guidance for drafting robust criminal-legal reform agendas.” 

“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,” Alec Karakatsanis, founder and executive director of Civil Rights Corps, said in the statement. “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.”

Read the full platform here.