The Department of Justice found that in 2018 a staggering 83 percent of released prisoners were rearrested within nine years of being released – with Hispanics making up 17 percent of those. With 95 percent of prisoners returning to society in their lifetimes, our community will gain much if reforms help more people with criminal records to rebuild their lives and succeed.

Fixing America’s “Overcriminalization” Epidemic

America has an overcriminalization epidemic. Due to an explosion in the number of laws and regulations that carry criminal penalties, the U.S. incarcerated population has quadrupled from roughly 500,000 in 1980 to nearly 2.2 million people in 2016. Because of our heavy-handed approach, it’s estimated that there are roughly as many Americans with criminal records—one-in-four—as there are with college degrees. Worst of all, the system effectively criminalizes poverty. Studies show the poorer you grew up, the more likely you are to spend time incarcerated when compared to those raised in higher income households.

The Punishment Should Fit the Crime

It’s pretty simple: punishments should fit the crime. But that’s not the case today.
Too often, mandatory minimum sentences can lock up even non-violent, first-time offenders for decades. People charged with multiple trivial crimes have their sentences “stacked,” producing decades-long sentences. And the system denies many incarcerated people access to rehabilitation programs, sometimes releasing them back into society worse than they went in.

Second Chances for People Who have Paid Their Debt to Society

People should be held accountable for their actions. But those who pay their debt to society deserve a second chance—one that’s denied to too many people today. People with criminal pasts who genuinely wish to build a better future by contributing to society upon their release should have access to the tools they need to develop marketable skills and get a fresh start.

For example, there are more than 15,000 laws and regulations that limit job opportunities for people with a criminal record. Other policies make it near impossible to find affordable housing, open bank accounts, or pursue additional education – essential for leading productive lives.

Posts

LIBRE-Nevada urges lawmakers to tackle jobs, health care, criminal justice before time runs out

Writing in El Tiempo Las Vegas, The LIBRE Initiative-Nevada Community Engagement Director Eddie Diaz points to the urgency state lawmakers face in the final days of the legislative session. “Lawmakers should seize the opportunity to boost the economy, guard against future pandemics, and reform criminal justice. If they do, Nevada’s Hispanic community will be among the biggest beneficiaries,” Diaz … Read More
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The LIBRE Initiative – Texas Urges Texas Senate to Pass the Sandra Bland Act

The LIBRE Initiative – Texas Urges Texas Senate to Pass the Sandra Bland Act Bipartisan Legislation Would Prohibit Arrest and Jail time for Certain Traffic Offenses (Austin, TX) – Today, The LIBRE Initiative – Texas, a group committed to empowering the Latino community, praised the Texas House of Representatives for approving House Bill 830, also … Read More
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Treating traffic violations as crimes is bad for everyone

Only 13 states treat minor traffic violations such as speeding or driving with a broken taillight as crimes rather than civil offenses, meaning they can get you served a criminal warrant and land you in jail. Nevada is one. Eddie Diaz, community engagement director for The LIBRE Initiative-Nevada, writes in the Nevada Independent why that … Read More
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AFP & LIBRE-NM Calls On Gov. Lujan Grisham To Sign HB 4 Into Law

HB 4 Makes New Mexico’s Justice System More Fair (Albuquerque, MN) –  This weekend, Americans for Prosperity and The LIBRE Initiative sent Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham a letter urging her to sign HB 4, New Mexico’s Civil Rights Act, into law to improve the justice system in the state. Read the letter below: Dear Governor … Read More
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LIBRE & AFP Letter To New Mexico’s Governor Lujan Grisham On HB 4

Dear Governor Lujan Grisham: We are writing in support of HB 4, the New Mexico Civil Rights Act. This legislation was approved by the legislature this week and is currently awaiting your signature. On behalf of every New Mexico citizen who deserves their day in court, and every good police officer honorably serving their community, … Read More

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