The Civil Rights Corps Policy Department is dedicated to one fundamental idea—if we want to keep families and communities safe, we must begin investing in the upfront supports that people truly need. Catalyzing this paradigm shift, away from carceral systems and toward addressing root causes, is the best way to keep people genuinely safe. It is also essential for addressing the racial, economic, and other injustices that plague our current system.
To accomplish these objectives, our work is structured around three high-level goals: Dismantling Criminal-Legal Injustice, Building Community Safety, and Securing Racial and Economic Justice. In each area, we develop policy resources for advocates and state, local and federal policymakers; provide targeted assistance to advocates and policymakers seeking transformative change; and engage in advocacy that seeks to make these policy shifts a reality.
For too long, this country has made “safety” synonymous with jails, prisons, and a sprawling criminal-legal system. But this notion of “safety” has failed us. Investments in these systems do not address significant harms that communities experience every day, including environmental hazards, unsafe workplaces, housing and food insecurity, economic instability, domestic violence, exposure to deportation, and so much more. Moreover, these systems have made many people feel less safe by directly perpetrating harm and by exacerbating racial, economic, and gender injustices.
Our vision is of a new paradigm that approaches safety in a different way—a paradigm that uses cross-sectoral, people-centered investments to prevent violence and harm before they happen. And our Community Safety Project, the thematic center of our policy work, is dedicated to making this new paradigm a reality.
The U.S. criminal-legal system is a stain on our democracy. Centered around criminalization and punishment, rather than acknowledging and addressing the underlying reasons for most crime, the current system is failing to keep people safe while tearing far too many communities apart—especially the Black and brown low-income communities disproportionately harmed by these practices.
The goal of the Civil Rights Corps Policy Department is to help policymakers and advocates end these injustices. Our work includes efforts to end unconstitutional wealth-based detention, support bail reform that maximizes pretrial liberty, address fines and fees policies that serve to criminalize poverty, end debt-based driver’s license suspension, eliminate racial disparities in these and related carceral systems, and otherwise work to dismantle criminal-legal injustice.
As an organization working to dismantle systems of wealth-based detention, human caging, and other forms of criminal-legal injustice, Civil Rights Corps has always been committed to the larger vision of securing racial and economic justice. Our policy team works to build the policy ideas, connective spaces, and narrative strategies to secure racial and economic justice, as well as to support movements that are fighting for these ends.
Through partnerships with organizations and advocates focused on labor, youth, education, anti-racism, climate justice, protecting immigrant communities, public health, and much more, we are working to break down silos between these interconnected issue-areas, creating solidarity and amplifying our collective voices.