University of Wisconsin–Madison

Transparency is Not Enough: A Framework for Building Campaign Strategy

Type Policy Brief or Report
Year -
Level City or Town
State(s) All States
Policy Areas Civil Rights, Health, Public Safety
Activists, organizers, and reformers often demand transparency from the criminal legal system because of the harm the system inflicts behind closed doors—particularly upon Black and Brown, poor, LGBTQ, and immigrant communities. For organizers working to dismantle the criminal legal system, however, transparency is best understood as a limited but necessary goal, a first step that must be part of a larger campaign strategy. This report includes a series of questions intended to provide a framework for developing and strengthening organizing campaign strategies around transparency and access. In particular, through answering these questions, organizers can frame transparency as a first step—and not the end point—of campaigns, develop a rigorous definition of accountability beyond transparency, and ensure that demands for transparency and access do not produce only reformist solutions.

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