Rights and Justice

Criminal Justice Reform

We focus on developing policies to shrink the justice system’s footprint, improve public health and safety, and promote equity and accountability.

People march for the third day since the release of the grand jury report on the death of Breonna Taylor on September 26, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky. (Getty/Michael M. Santiago)

What We're Doing

Ending mass incarceration

Our work is centered around developing and supporting policies that will end unjust punishments and reduce the social and economic harms of mass incarceration, which have disproportionately devastated Black people and other communities of color.

Community safety and justice

We work to advance meaningful alternatives to the criminal legal system that address the root causes of violence, promote community-driven responses to people in crisis, and increase investments that improve public health and community safety over the long term.

The war on drugs

We are working to drastically reduce the criminalization of drugs in America while restoring communities that have been most affected by harsh drug enforcement measures.

Second chances

We advocate for policy options that remove obstacles and barriers for people affected by the criminal justice system while simultaneously highlighting the leadership of affected people in the reform movement.

The Criminal Justice Reform team focuses on developing policies to shrink the justice system’s footprint, improve public health and safety, and promote equity and accountability.

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Recent Work

Latest

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Film Screening: ‘The 50’ Past Event

Film Screening: ‘The 50’

A documentary film about a groundbreaking mental health program in a California prison, told by the program’s first 50 participants. The film will be followed by a discussion with the film's director and subjects.

Film Screening: ‘The 50’ (Online) Past Event

Film Screening: ‘The 50’ (Online)

A documentary film about a groundbreaking mental health program in a California prison, told by the program’s first 50 participants. The film will be followed by a discussion with the film's director and subjects.

2023 CAP IDEAS Conference Past Event
CAP IDEAS Conference logo

2023 CAP IDEAS Conference

Join the Center for American Progress as we celebrate 20 years of innovative policy solutions and look boldly forward to a progressive future.

Executive Summary: A Whole-of-Government, Society-Wide Approach to Tackling the Opioid Crisis Fact Sheet

Executive Summary: A Whole-of-Government, Society-Wide Approach to Tackling the Opioid Crisis

This fact sheet summarizes a recent Center for American Progress report outlining the need for a whole-of-government, society-wide approach to addressing the complex challenges posed by the opioid overdose epidemic.

Trinh Q. Truong, Debu Gandhi, Jill Rosenthal, 5 More Marquisha Johns, Mariam Rashid, Dan Restrepo, Akua Amaning, Cleo Bluthenthal

Tackling the Opioid Crisis Requires a Whole-of-Government, Society-Wide Approach Report
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents sift through packages in search of fentanyl.

Tackling the Opioid Crisis Requires a Whole-of-Government, Society-Wide Approach

The opioid epidemic is a complex public health crisis that can be ameliorated by addressing root causes of drug use; expanding access to treatment and harm reduction strategies; and reducing the supply of illicit opioids entering the United States.

Trinh Q. Truong, Debu Gandhi, Jill Rosenthal, 5 More Marquisha Johns, Mariam Rashid, Dan Restrepo, Akua Amaning, Cleo Bluthenthal

Safe Streets for All: An Opportunity To Rethink Traffic Enforcement Article
A police officer directs traffic in Highland Park, Illinois.

Safe Streets for All: An Opportunity To Rethink Traffic Enforcement

The Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets for All program can be leveraged to support community-level innovation in roadway safety efforts, including by rethinking traffic enforcement strategies to improve the physical and psychological safety of Black drivers and others on the road.

Allie Preston

Opinion: Three Black leaders offer one practical solution to reduce police assaults on Black motorists In the News

Opinion: Three Black leaders offer one practical solution to reduce police assaults on Black motorists

Patrick Gaspard partners with Color of Change's Rashad Robinson and the Vera Institute of Justice's Nicholas Turner to discuss the dangers of traffic stops for Black motorists and to urge leaders at the federal, state, and local levels to seek solutions.

CNN

Patrick Gaspard, Rashad Robinson , Nicholas Turner

What To Read Before the State of the Union Article
U.S. President Joe Biden talks to reporters after returning to the White House.

What To Read Before the State of the Union

The economy; democracy and the courts; and community safety and gun violence are expected to be at center stage as President Biden prepares to address the nation during his second State of the Union address.

Kiera Manser, Rose Khattar, Ben Olinsky, 1 More Rachael Eisenberg

ARPA Funds Continue To Support Community Safety Efforts Through Community Responder Programs Article
A dispatcher speaks to a caller while viewing various computer screens.

ARPA Funds Continue To Support Community Safety Efforts Through Community Responder Programs

With the help of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, governments are expanding their public safety strategies to invest in community responder programs that reduce reliance on law enforcement and provide communities with meaningful emergency management support.

Akua Amaning

Community-Based Violence Interruption Programs Can Reduce Gun Violence Article
Photo shows a group of five people hugging.

Community-Based Violence Interruption Programs Can Reduce Gun Violence

Violence interruption is a community-based intervention strategy that can reduce gun violence and improve public safety in neighborhoods around the country.

Jahdziah St. Julien

Second Chances Make Our Communities Safer Past Event
An attendee wears a pin that reads “I'm for second chances.”

Second Chances Make Our Communities Safer

Please join CAP and the Clean Slate Initiative for a virtual event on how clean slate policies make our communities safer by increasing employment and opportunities that reduce recidivism and crime.

Give Women a Second Chance—Our Economy Depends on It In the News

Give Women a Second Chance—Our Economy Depends on It

Akua Amaning and Sheena Meade write about how second chance policies can help lift millions of women out of poverty.

Newsweek

Fines and Fees Are a Barrier to Criminal Record-Clearing Article
View of a Black man in profile, wearing dark winter clothes, walking on a sidewalk holding a large blue bucket. He is scattering de-icing salt in front of a brown brick/stone building with a small grassy area between the building and the sidewalk, although it's entirely covered in a tin layer of snow with brown leaves visible.

Fines and Fees Are a Barrier to Criminal Record-Clearing

Jurisdictions can take several steps to eliminate the financial barriers imposed by fines and fees, which would help system-impacted individuals clear their records and reenter society.

Gus Tupper, Akua Amaning, Jaboa Lake

Beyond the U.S. Department of Justice Report
A microphone stands near the West Wing of the White House after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump on January 13, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Getty/Drew Angerer)

Beyond the U.S. Department of Justice

The federal government has the opportunity to look to agencies beyond the Department of Justice to advance progressive criminal justice reforms.

Sarah Figgatt

The Facts on Pattern-or-Practice Investigations Fact Sheet
 (Getty/Andrew Harnick-Pool)

The Facts on Pattern-or-Practice Investigations

The U.S. Department of Justice seems poised to restore pattern-or-practice investigations to promote constitutional and effective policing.

Kenny Lo

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