Statement From Formerly Incarcerated Criminal Justice Reform Advocate, Glenn E. Martin On The Democratic Party Platform

July 1, 2016


FRIDAY, JULY 1, 2016 (New York) – Glenn E. Martin, founder and President of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) issued the following statement concerning the National Democratic Convention Platform:

Today, the decades-long struggle for a fair, humane, and nondiscriminatory criminal justice system reached a major milestone.  For the first time in history, one of the nation’s major political parties officially adopted a plank in its convention platform calling for an end to “the era of mass incarceration.”  The Democratic Party plank further addresses issues that have long been on the criminal justice reform movement’s policy agenda:  “shutting down private prisons, ending racial profiling, reforming the grand jury process, investing in re-entry programs, banning the box to help give people a second chance and prioritizing treatment over incarceration for individuals suffering addiction.”

In an unusual addendum, the plank acknowledges “the role activists and recent movements have played in putting these issues front and center in the national conversation, as they should be.”

For those of us who have been laboring in the trenches of the fight for criminal justice reform for many years, this counts as a major achievement.  It is also a credit to the American people whose views have shifted away from the fear-based, punitive policies of the past to embrace a new approach to crime and criminal justice based on fairness, proportionality, and redemption.  Recent surveys show strong public support for alternatives to incarceration, an end to mandatory sentencing, a public health approach to drugs, and major reforms of the juvenile justice system.  The Democratic Platform plank reflects this public sentiment.

This is not a partisan issue.  The Draconian sentencing policies of the past were supported by Republican and Democratic administrations alike, and today Republicans are supporting many of the reforms in the Democratic platform.  I, along with other leaders of the formerly incarcerated people’s movement and the millions of men, women and children who have experienced mass incarceration personally, salute the drafters of the platform and hope it serves as a call to action as we go forward.        .

– Glenn E. Martin, founder and President, JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA)

GLENN E. MARTIN is the Founder and President of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Glenn is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent six years in New York State prisons. Prior to founding JLUSA, Glenn served for seven years as Vice President of Development and Public Affairs at The Fortune Society, one of the most respected reentry organizations in the country and six years as Co-Director of the National HIRE Network at the Legal Action Center. For more information visit:


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