Leading criminal justice reform organization outlines civil rights policy recommendations for new administration, calls for ‘bold action’ at federal level
March 4, 2021 — NEW YORK — JustLeadershipUSA, the nonprofit organization that empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform, is calling on President Biden to use his executive powers to appoint a criminal justice and re-entry official to serve in the White House Domestic Policy Council and lead the Interagency Reentry Council.
“The person should be someone who is directly impacted by incarceration,” says DeAnna Hoskins, President and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA.
Additionally, the organization is calling for the reinstatement of the Department of Justice’s Smart on Crime Initiative as well as improvements in the Bureau of Prison’s emergency preparedness in case of future pandemics and natural disasters.
The recommendations are part of JustLeadershipUSA’s National Policy Platform for 2021-2024, which was released today. The full list of policy recommendations goes far beyond traditional and current calls for criminal justice reform to focus on affording basic civil rights — medical care, voting rights, housing support, anti-discrimination and more — to those both formerly and currently impacted by the system. The full set of recommendations can be found online at jlusa.org.
“President Biden’s recent executive order ending federal contracts with private prisons was an important first step, but the U.S. still has the dubious distinction of not only being the world’s biggest jailer but also utilizing criminal backgrounds as a means to maintain oppression and marginalization of over 70 million — disproportionately Black, brown, and poor — individuals,” says Hoskins, who served as Senior Policy Advisor (Corrections/Reentry) at the Department of Justice during the Obama Administration and was formerly incarcerated herself.
The policy recommendations include both immediate executive actions that President Biden can sign into law to immediately help those who are currently incarcerated and as they enter back into their communities after serving their sentence, along with mid-term and long-term legislative recommendations to create real and lasting reform. The removal of the Thirteenth Amendment’s exception to the end of involuntary servitude if it is punishment for those convicted of a crime is a recommended multi-year effort involving both Congress and the state legislatures.
Long-term, Hoskins and the organization seek to abolish the death penalty through legislation, among other goals.
“Now is the time for bold action at the federal level,” Hoskins says. “The kinds of reforms and progress envisioned by the new administration can only be achieved if we have a paradigm shift and reimagine a system that promises equal access, rights and honors the dignity and humanity of all people.”
JLUSA’s full National Platform, which includes both recent and long-term historical context on why these reforms are imperative, will soon be available at jlusa.org.
JustLeadershipUSA is the national nonprofit building a national movement to decarcerate the United States. The organization, led by directly impacted people, is dedicated to doing so by empowering the people and communities most impacted by the criminal justice system to drive, amplify, and sustain policy reform. Learn more about JustLeadershipUSA at https://jlusa.org.