Transforming the System

Our criminal justice system must keep all communities safe, foster prevention and rehabilitation, and ensure fair and equal justice. But in too many places, and in too many ways, our system is falling short of that mandate and with devastating consequences. The United States is saddled with an outdated, unfair, and bloated criminal justice system that drains resources and disrupts communities.

People of color, particularly Native American, black, and Latino people, have felt the impact of discrimination within the criminal justice system. Many immigrants experience mandatory detention, racial profiling, and due process violations because of laws and policies that violate their human rights—and the principles of equal justice, fair treatment, and proportionality under our criminal justice system. The good news is that we as a nation are at a unique moment in which there is strong public, bipartisan support for criminal justice reform; we see positive policy developments in many parts of the country; and mass action and social movements for change are growing, including the Movement for Black Lives. More is needed, however, to move from positive trends to transformative, lasting change. This website provides practical policy solutions and communication tools for building a shared narrative around criminal justice reform.

“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Criminal Justice Policy Solutions

Promote Community Safety through Alternatives to Incarceration
Our criminal justice system should ensure that all individuals feel safe and secure in their communities.
Create Fair and Effective Policing Practices
To work for all of us, policing practices should ensure equal justice and be supported by evidence.
Promote Justice in Pre-Trial Services & Practices
The right to due process is a cornerstone of our commitment to freedom and fairness.
Enhance Prosecutorial Integrity
Prosecutors represent the government, and therefore must reflect the highest levels of integrity and ethics in their work.
Ensure Fair Trials and Quality Indigent Defense
Every accused person is entitled to a fair trial. Indigent defendants have a constitutional right to competent representation at trial.
Encourage Equitable Sentencing
People convicted of crimes should receive fair sentences. These sentences should reflect the severity of the crime and be administered in a fair manner.
Ensure Decent Detention Conditions
Decent, rehabilitative prisons are a basic human right and crucial to the successful reintegration of formally incarcerated people.
Require Equitable Parole and Probation
Parole and probation practices should be fair and consistent. They should be used as a tool to allow accused persons to safely remain in their communities.
Foster Successful Reintegration
Most Americans agree that after completing a criminal sentence, released people should be given an opportunity to successfully reintegrate into their communities.
Foster an Environment for Respecting Children's Rights
We must adopt policies that ensure children reach their full potential and are not placed off track for childhood mistakes.
Eradicate the Criminalization of Sex, Gender, & Sexuality
We all should have freedom to live without fear of criminalization because of our expressed sex, gender or sexuality.
Eliminate the Criminalization of Poverty
Instead of increasing opportunities to succeed, our law too often funnels low-income people into the criminal justice system.
Eliminate the Criminalization of Public Health Issues
The criminal justice system is too often used as a cure-all for social problems that are better suited to social services and public health responses.
Promote Fairness at the Intersection of Immigration and Criminal Justice
Everyone is entitled to have their human rights respected regardless of immigration status.
Public Opinion Report: A New Sensibility
This report is based on a review of about fifty public opinion surveys and polls, most of them conducted between 2014 and June 2016.

Submit Your Ideas

We invite readers to submit feedback and ideas about this report to the Transforming the System feedback form. This information will guide our efforts to improve the communications of criminal justice reforms and advance a shared narrative around transforming the criminal justice system

Download the Full PDF Transforming the System: Criminal Justice Policy Solutions

The Artist Statement - Alixa Garcia

Transforming the System

"As we stand on the crest of history, we look back to see that this wave of oppression has long been rising with the tumultuous spirit of those who drowned in the Atlantic ..."
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