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04/5/2019 | Racial Justice

CPD Network & Allies Gather to Transform Our Criminal Legal System

On March 5, CPD joined allies Law for Black Lives, PolicyLink, BYP 100 and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to convene an all-day conversation about working to develop and pass federal legislation that would repeal and replace the 1994 Crime Bill, which allowed for over-policing and mass incarceration to ravage our communities. With our allies, we gathered to think critically about how we will engage base-building groups across the country in order to reform this piece of legislation that has negatively impacted Black and Brown communities for more than 20 years.

The meeting took place in Washington, DC and is the first step in developing what we are calling, “Freedom To Thrive” legislation that will acknowledge and begin to repair the harmful, ineffective, and wasteful aspects of the 1994 Crime Bill, while advancing a new vision of security and safety for our communities. With a major election on the horizon that is surfacing criminal justice as a significant societal issue, it is vital that we intervene with our vision of divesting from criminalization, incarceration and surveillance and reinvesting in the health, safety and wellbeing of Black and Brown communities.

When the 1994 Crime Bill passed, the legislation faced widespread criticism from criminologists, civil-rights lawyers, community activists, and numerous members of Congress. Today, advocates, organizers, and even elected officials who had previously supported the bill, recognize its flawed nature and the need to remedy the damage that has been done. In particular, draconian punishment and imprisonment, paired with increased resourcing and militarization of police did not make communities safer, but instead contributed to mass incarceration and criminalization, destabilizing an entire generation of Americans and their families, with a particularly destructive impact on Black communities. Complimenting “Freedom to Thrive” work at the local level, this federal expression serves to build the capacity for our larger vision of replacing this legislation with a modern public safety bill and galvanize collective action.

The CPD Network was represented by: SPACES in Action (DC), Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Good Jobs Now (MI), Black Leaders Organizing Communities (WI), One Pennsylvania, Maryland Communities United, Organize Florida, New Florida Majority and members of Local Progress.