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.


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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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LIBRE-TX’s Jorge Martinez Discussing Hispanic Engagement in Texas

(Mission, Texas) –  Recently, Jorge Martinez, Coalitions Director for The LIBRE Initiative – Texas, an organization committed to empowering the Latino community, joined the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) to discuss Hispanic engagement in Texas. In the interview, Jorge Martinez talked about the LIBRE Initiative, and the work they are doing to remove barriers that … Read More
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LIBRE 2021 Federal Policy Agenda

LIBRE Announces 2021 Federal Policy Agenda Economic Recovery, Health Care and Immigration Among Group’s Top Priorities (Arlington, VA) – Today, The LIBRE Initiative, an organization committed to empowering the Hispanic community, announced its 2021 Federal Policy Agenda. Click here to read 2021 Federal Policy Agenda. The LIBRE Initiative is urging lawmakers to work together to prioritize … Read More
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ICYMI: LIBRE Featured in the Arizona Republic

Phoenix, AZ – The LIBRE Initiative, an organization committed to empowering the Hispanic community, was featured in the Arizona Republic in a story about a recent LIBRE policy forum with Vice President Mike Pence. From the story: “Arizona is one of 13 states with a permanent presence from LIBRE, and the state has two full-time … Read More
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LIBRE/AFP: Rubio Legislation Corrects an Immense Injustice Within Cares Act Law

Bill Ensures Eligible US Adult Citizens Receive the Coronavirus Relief Miami, FL – Today, The LIBRE Initiative – Florida, an organization committed to empowering the Hispanic community, announced its support for the American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act, legislation that would amend the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to ensure that US adult … Read More