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Storytelling on social media has become a powerful tool to shift public narratives in the movement to end mass criminalization. However, if misused, improper storytelling runs the risk of perpetuating narratives that reinforce, rather than work to dismantle, the criminal justice system. To avoid this, this guide offers tips to organizers and advocates who are using social media to broadly critique the criminal punishment system, including through the use of storytelling about individual cases or people, in order to build power and to bring about changes that lessen its size, scope, and reach.
Transgender people overall experience high levels of discrimination in every area of life, as well as high levels of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, negative interactions with police, incarceration, and violent victimization. As a result, many transgender people participate in the sex trade in order to earn income or as an alternative to relying on homeless shelters and food banks. The criminalizing and stigmatizing of sex work in the United States can worsen the discrimination and marginalization that transgender people already face in society. This report analyzes data to support these claims, and provides recommendations for what policy makers, legislators, and the community can do to help.
Incarceration puts both incarcerated people and corrections staff at risk of contracting COVID-19. A wide array of criminal justice stakeholders have come together to call for a public health-oriented approach to the COVID-19 crisis. The key recommendations include releasing incarcerated individuals, limiting new additions to closed correctional settings, addressing violations of COVID-19 related orders through a public health approach (rather than with criminalization), connecting public health organizations and criminal justice stakeholders, and utilizing innovations that promote integration of public health priorities into the justice system.
This document is intended for organizers, legal advocates, and organizations contemplating starting a bail fund as an intervention in the criminal legal and/or immigration detention systems. The first part of the document poses core exploratory questions to consider before starting a bail fund; these questions are meant to determine the viability and the potential impact of a bail fund in your community. The second half of the document provides additional questions focused on the mechanics of the bail process and operating a bail fund; they are intended to be helpful in mapping out the logistical feasibility of starting a bail fund in your community.
This report articulates young people’s mandate to their government—local, state, and federal—to permanently end the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline and build a liberatory education system based on principles of inclusion, equity and racial justice. The key points of the mandate including demands to fund education, not incarceration (end federal funding for police in schools, support a pipeline to college and eliminate barriers to higher education), restore and strengthen the civil rights of young people (fund civil rights offices that uphold the rights of young people, support maximum local democratic control of the education system), and end the private takeover of schools (end funding for charter schools, fund traditional public schools).
Before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, missing a court date, a check-in with parole or probation, a day of community service, or a court-mandated treatment program could and frequently did result in people being jailed. However, during the early days of the pandemic, most states suspended or reduced in-person courtroom proceedings (either moving them online via video or postponing them to future dates), which goes to show that rescheduling appointments with the criminal legal system is possible, and that the criminalization of failing-to-appear (FTA) has always been arbitrary and merely punitive. This guide explains why it is essential to eliminate failure-to-appear and outlines demands to end the criminalization of FTA.
Incarcerated people in the United States’ jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers are at an unacceptable risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19. This document provides some guidance and tools for families, organizers, and advocates who are demanding their decarceration and health equity while pushing back against the false narratives that invoke public health in order to uphold mass criminalization and incarceration during COVID-19. Included is a set of core organizing principles to support calls for both mass release public health and a set of answers to common questions and push-back organizers may be facing in their local campaigns.
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.
People in prisons, jails, and immigration jails are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks. Given the inherent high risk of all incarceration settings, this statement argues that the best protection for these individuals is release for everyone in the custody of federal prisons, pre-trial detention, local jails, state prisons, & ICE jails and prisons. Additionally, law enforcement agencies should prevent future incarceration and stop admitting people into jails and prisons.
There is evidence that placing law enforcement in schools increases referrals to the criminal legal system. The presence of law enforcement makes it more likely that students of color will be arrested for low-level offenses, and increases the formal processing of exclusionary disciplinary responses. This report outlines the results of a survey conducted to reveal students’ experiences, interactions, and feelings about police and security at school, and their vision for supportive and well-resourced schools. Results show that police and security at schools do not make students feel safe, and that students value more support and resources over police and security. This report also features transformative, anti-racist policies that would dismantle the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline and guides school districts towards more inclusive learning environments.