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RELEASE: New CAP Report Highlights How To Advance Criminal Justice Reform Beyond the DOJ

Washington, D.C. — To overhaul the nation’s approach to safety and justice, policymakers must look beyond the justice system and reexamine the full breadth of policies that intersect with public safety and criminal justice—from education to economic development to health care and beyond. This is the main conclusion of a new report released today by the Center for American Progress.

At the federal level, policymakers have an opportunity to make a governmentwide commitment to advancing fair, just, and equitable approaches to public safety and criminal justice reform. While the Department of Justice (DOJ) undoubtedly has a significant role in reforming criminal justice policy and regulations, federal agencies across the government also have a crucial part to play in reducing the footprint of the justice system and removing barriers for people with criminal records.

Critical actions that federal agencies can take to advance criminal justice reform include the following:

  • Ensuring justice-involved people have access to social safety net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Breaking down the school-to-prison pipeline and expanding access to educational opportunities for currently and formerly incarcerated students
  • Ensuring formerly incarcerated people have immediate access to health coverage upon reentry into the community
  • Increasing access to affordable housing for those with criminal records
  • Connecting justice-involved job seekers to high-quality jobs
  • Funding services to limit criminal justice involvement in Native populations
  • Helping veterans successfully reintegrate into their communities

“There is tremendous potential and opportunity across the federal government to implement policies that can meaningfully mitigate the harms caused to individuals by past involvement in the criminal justice system and break down barriers to reentry due to having a criminal record,” said Chelsea Parsons, acting vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress. “Much of this work begins at the Department of Justice, but it does not end there, and there is much that other federal agencies can do to further the goals of criminal justice reform efforts.”

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