Transforming the System


This interactive report identifies pragmatic solutions for transforming the criminal justice system, consolidating recommendations on a cross-section of issues. The issues are examined in an inclusive and intersectional manner, considering the unique ways that race, gender, gender identity, sexual expression, and health status affect criminal justice administration. This is a tool for communicating a shared narrative to advance criminal justice policies that reflect the values of:

  • Equal Justice,
  • Due process,
  • Dignity,
  • Respect,
  • Voice,
  • Second Chances,
  • Safety, and
  • Commonsense Solutions.

It aims to remedy the problem of our outdated and bloated criminal justice system, and includes policy and public opinion analysis, 10-point policy solutions tools, issue-specific messaging flashcards, and shareable graphics. Full references and citations are included in the downloadable PDFs and excluded from the website itself.


This policy solutions report was written by I. India Thusi, Associate Counsel at The Opportunity Agenda. The public opinion report was written by Loren Siegel. The messaging flashcards were written by Julie Fisher Rowe, Senior Framing and Messaging Coordinator at The Opportunity Agenda.

Special thanks to those who contributed to the analysis, review, and editing of the report, including Juhu Thukral, Director of Law and Advocacy at The Opportunity Agenda; Alan Jenkins, Executive Director of The Opportunity Agenda; Nahal Zamani, Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights; Nusrat Choudhury, Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union; Nicole Pittman, Vice President and Director of the Center on Youth Registration Reform at Impact Justice, and former Opportunity Agenda Communications Institute Fellow; Andi Gentile, Policy Strategist at the Center on Youth Registration Reform at Impact Justice; Justin Hansford, Associate Professor at Saint Louis University School of Law; Carlton Mayers II, Policing Reform Policy Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Diego Iniguez- Lopez, former Robert L. Carter Fellow at The Opportunity Agenda; and Jessica Peñaranda of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center. Additional thanks go to Tanvee Trehan, Brooklyn Law School class of 2018, and Jevhon Rivers, Harvard Law School class of 2018, for their research assistance. Further thanks to William Tevlin for his research support, and Dennis Parker, Director of the Racial Justice Program at the American Civil Liberties Union, and Sam Sinyangwe of Campaign Zero for their consultation. Special thanks to members of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, particularly Founding Council Member Topeka K. Sam, for input on incorporating the voices and policy suggestions of those directly impacted by the criminal justice system in the report by creating the National Symposium Real Women Real Voices “Where the People Meet the Policy”.

This report was designed and produced by Lorissa Shepstone and Gordon Clemmons of Being Wicked. Its production was coordinated by Ross Mudrick of Ross Mudrick Without Associates. Alixa Garcia created the original artwork on the cover of the report.

The Opportunity Agenda’s Criminal Justice initiative is funded with support from the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and The JPB Foundation. The statements made and views expressed are those of The Opportunity Agenda.

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