RELEASE: New CAP Column Highlights 3 Under-the-Radar Executive Actions for the Biden Administration’s Criminal Justice Reform Agenda

Washington, D.C. — After President Joe Biden signed several executive orders designed to undo some of the previous administration’s harmful criminal justice policies, additional executive actions could set the foundation for more transformative change, a new column released today by the Center for American Progress highlights.

The column lists three overlooked Obama-era policies on criminal justice reform that the Biden administration can immediately expand and elevate:

  1. Reestablish a Science Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The Biden administration has stressed the importance of science, and this should extend to its criminal justice reform policies by reestablishing the Science Advisory Board (SAB) at the DOJ. The SAB should, for example, inform how the department responds to the spike in homicides in 2020 and analyze the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on crime, as well as other Biden priorities such as decriminalizing marijuana and ending the death penalty.
  2. Reconvene a permanent working group on transfers of military equipment to law enforcement. As a candidate, President Biden spoke on the campaign trail about the need to stop “transferring weapons of war” to police forces. The Biden administration should reestablish the permanent working group to provide clear direction on what can and cannot be acquired using federal funds. Even if the administration prohibits all “weapons of war,” the working group is needed to analyze whether federal resources should be used to acquire various emerging technologies.
  3. Hire justice-involved people throughout the administration. The Biden administration should prioritize placing formerly incarcerated people in significant policy positions to lead criminal justice reform portfolios that are in the administration’s priorities. These experts could have a significant policy role in, for example, the Federal Bureau of Prisons as it navigates how to provide more effective job training and educational resources for those incarcerated. People with records should also be part of reforming the clemency process either at the DOJ’s Office of the Pardon Attorney or the White House.

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