Center for American Progress

EVENT ADVISORY: Reversing the Trend of Overcriminalization of People of Color by Bringing About Criminal Justice Reform
Press Advisory

EVENT ADVISORY: Reversing the Trend of Overcriminalization of People of Color by Bringing About Criminal Justice Reform


Washington, D.C. — On Thursday, May 28, the Center for American Progress and PICO National Network will host a discussion on criminal justice reform and how policymakers and advocates 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 (see CAP’s report: 4 Ideas That Could Begin to Reform the Criminal Justice System and Improve Police-Community Relations by Michele Jawando and Chelsea Parsons).

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. Furthermore, between 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 (see CAP’s report: One Strike and You’re Out, by Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich).

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 decreased one-fifth between 1980 and 2004. Recent events in cities across the nation have highlighted the lack of opportunity, inequities, and challenges confronting many U.S. communities; raised serious questions about police practices; and helped fuel the need for comprehensive criminal justice reform.


Welcoming remarks:
Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President for External Affairs, Center for American Progress

Opening remarks:
Pastor Michael McBride, Director of Urban Strategies and LIVE FREE Campaign, PICO National Network

Featured presenter:
Heather Ann Thompson, Associate Professor, Departments of African American Studies and History, Temple University

Featured panelists:
Reverend Heber Marvin Brown II, 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
Alicia Garza, Co-founder, Black Lives Matter

Moderated by:
Todd A. Cox, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress


Thursday, May 28, 2015
9:30 a.m. ET – 11:00 a.m. ET


Center for American Progress
1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005


Click here to RSVP. Members of the press are encouraged to attend this event. Please identify yourself as Press when filling out the RSVP form.

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Tanya S. Arditi at or 202.741.6258.


The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just, and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

PICO National Network is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. PICO works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 60 local and state federations. PICO and its federations are nonpartisan and do not endorse or support candidates for office. PICO urges people of faith to consult their faith traditions for guidance on specific policies and legislation. Learn more at