The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration, with 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails. Mass incarceration and overcriminalization have particularly affected communities of color, which make up more than 60 percent of the population behind bars. And nationally, 70 million and 100 million—or one in three Americans—now have a criminal record, which can serve as a barrier to many of the basic building blocks of economic security and mobility, such as employment and housing. These trends have become major drivers of poverty; if not for mass incarceration and the criminal records that can haunt people for decades thereafter, our nation’s poverty rate would have dropped by one-fifth between 1980 and 2004. Recent events in cities across the nation have highlighted the lack of opportunity, inequities, and challenges confronting many of our communities, raised serious questions about police practices, and helped fuel the need for comprehensive criminal justice reform.
Please join the Center for American Progress and PICO National Network for a discussion of how we can begin to reverse the trend of overcriminalization of people of color and address its lasting consequences, including reforming policing practices and removing barriers to opportunity for people with criminal records.
Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President for External Affairs, Center for American Progress
Pastor Michael McBride, Director of Urban Strategies and LIVE FREE Campaign, PICO National Network
Heather Ann Thompson, Professor of History, University of Michigan
Reverend Heber Brown III, Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, North Baltimore
Judith M. Conti, Federal Advocacy Coordinator, National Employment Law Project
Ronald L. Davis, Director, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice
Pastor Darren A. Ferguson, Mount Carmel Baptist Church, Arverne (Far Rockaway), NY
Alicia Garza, Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter
Todd A. Cox, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress