FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 24, 2023
Coalition of 65+ Justice Reform Organizations Urge Congress to Act on Public Safety Policy Recommendations
Civil rights and racial justice organizations send demands to Congress outlining their policy priorities for improving public safety and redirecting investments into communities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Color Of Change, alongside a coalition of 68 civil rights and justice organizations, sent a letter to the leadership of the 118th Congress urging the legislature to advance a Community Safety Legislative Agenda that would invest in historically underfunded programs to reduce crime and help make communities safer.
The Community Safety Agenda was co-developed to provide Congressional members with concrete laws, policies, and funding that will improve communities in all areas. The agenda is designed based on extensive research and evidence and contains recommendations for improving policy in areas including community health and prevention programs, economic opportunity, housing security, and investing in youth and families. Recommendations include:
- Creating a safety infrastructure rooted in public health & prevention
- Providing robust support for non-carceral crisis response
- Channeling major investments into supportive and emergency housing
- Building a new contract for providing rental assistance and affordable housing
- Investments in school resources that support youth’s physical, mental, and emotional health
- Enhanced support for enrichment programming & full-service community schools
“The 118th Congress must embrace public safety solutions beyond punitive punishments and policies that solely focus on increasing the presence of law enforcement, jails, and prisons. Advancing the Community Safety Legislative Agenda is a key step in the right direction,” said Sakira Cook, Vice President of Campaigns at Color Of Change. “Cities across the nation like Ithaca, NY and Camden, NJ have already been implementing alternative solutions, rooted in community-led initiatives, that have proven to reduce crime while also improving some of the most basic needs and services in our communities that are essential to making our communities safer for everyone.”
“Everyone deserves to be safe, and research shows that people favor solutions that prevent crime before it happens instead of the status quo approach of reacting in the aftermath. The Community Safety Legislative Agenda highlights solutions that have been proven to achieve real safety, moving us past failed ‘tough-on-crime' policies,” said Insha Rahman, Vice President of Advocacy and Partnerships at the Vera Institute of Justice. “We urge Congress to embrace solutions, not scare tactics, when it comes to tackling crime, and to follow the evidence about what works to make all communities safe.”
“This country is currently failing in its most fundamental obligation—to keep its communities, especially our young people, genuinely safe,” states Thea Sebastian, Director of Policy at Civil Rights Corps. “Too often we let rhetoric and fear drive our policy, rather than following evidence and community voices to implement solutions that deliver real results. This Community Safety Agenda would begin to reverse this paradigm, embracing a comprehensive roadmap toward the equitable, preventative safety that our communities urgently need.”
“We all deserve to live in freedom and safety, no matter our religion or our race. The Jewish community is a multiracial, multiethnic people, and we know that the approaches we’ve pursued in the past have failed to make community safety a reality for all of us,” said Jamie Beran, CEO, of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. “The Community Safety Agenda is the path forward we need right now: practical, holistic policies and programs that break cycles of harm and make our communities safer by investing in housing, education, employment, and health. This is essential for the just and equitable United States we all deserve – one that is free from white supremacy, where Black liberation is realized, and all people can thrive. We urge Congress to make the kind of investments detailed in this agenda to put community safety first.”
“Creating safe communities means creating communities that are just, welcoming, and sustainable for all. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe in a shared set of principles and values that not only affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person but also justice, equity, and compassion in human relations and respect for the interdependent web of all existence. True safety doesn't come from more police or prisons; rather, from investment in resources that provide care, stability, dignity, and support for all members of our society—long before harm occurs, and the criminal-policing system is involved. We urge Congress to support major investments in housing, education, and employment programs.” — the Unitarian Universalist Association
“Violence in the United States is irrevocably tied to systemic inequality and racial discrimination. Instead of pouring more money into carceral strategies, we must invest in proven policies that benefit the entire community. When the most vulnerable members of our community are struggling, we all suffer the consequences. We urge Congress to invest in community-based, holistic approaches to countering societal violence, such as increasing access to permanent and affordable housing, voluntary mental healthcare, and robust support for education. We know that when people’s basic needs are being met and human rights are respected, communities are safer.” — Human Rights Watch
“Research shows that investments in community health, civilian crisis response, violence prevention, safe and affordable housing, economic stability, education, youth and families, and infrastructure are what communities need to be safe. We urge Congress to support community safety legislation that prioritizes these solutions over carceral responses which have failed our country for generations.” — National Center for Law and Economic Justice
ABOUT COLOR OF CHANGE
Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by more than 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and governments to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit www.colorofchange.org.
ABOUT THE VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE
The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit vera.org
ABOUT CIVIL RIGHTS CORPS (CRC)
Civil Rights Corps (CRC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to challenging systemic injustice in the United States’ legal system, a system that is built on white supremacy and economic inequality. Civil Rights Corps engages in advocacy and public education and specializes in innovative, systemic civil rights litigation with the goal of re-sensitizing the legal system and our culture to the injustice and brutality that characterizes the contemporary U.S. legal system.
ABOUT BEND THE ARC: JEWISH ACTION
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action is uniting a movement of tens of thousands of progressive Jews across the country who are fighting for justice and equality for all. We are the only national Jewish organization focused exclusively on social change in the United States.
ABOUT THE UUA
The UUA is the central organization for the Unitarian Universalist (UU) religious movement in the United States. Our faith is diverse and inclusive and the UUA’s 1000+ member congregations are committed to Seven Principles that hold closely the worth and dignity of each person as sacred, the need for justice and compassion, the right of conscience, and respect for the interdependent nature of all existence.
ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Human Rights Watch investigates and reports on abuses happening in all corners of the world. We are roughly 550 plus people of 70-plus nationalities who are country experts, lawyers, journalists, and others who work to protect the most at risk, from vulnerable minorities and civilians in wartime, to refugees and children in need. We direct our advocacy towards governments, armed groups and businesses, pushing them to change or enforce their laws, policies and practices. To ensure our independence, we refuse government funding and carefully review all donations to ensure that they are consistent with our policies, mission, and values. We partner with organizations large and small across the globe to protect embattled activists and to help hold abusers to account and bring justice to victims.
ABOUT NATIONAL CENTER FOR LAW AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE
The National Center for Law and Economic Justice advances racial and economic justice through ground-breaking impact litigation, policy advocacy, and support for grassroots organizing.