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Press Release

Dismantling Structural Racism Is Key to Ending Over-Policing and Mass Incarceration

It’s time to break these destructive patterns.

Our hearts are break­ing for so many Amer­ic­ans in pain right now, espe­cially George Floy­d’s family, who had their loved one stolen from them in a police encounter that never should have turned lethal. Mr. Floy­d’s killing demon­strates once again that law enforce­ment’s dehu­man­iz­a­tion of Black Amer­ic­ans can have deadly results. This coun­try had already recently lost Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and a sick­en­ing number of other Black people who lost their lives over gener­a­tions because of fear and hate.

It is clear that the communit­ies most disad­vant­aged by coronavirus are the same communit­ies most affected by struc­tural racism, over-poli­cing that results in dehu­man­iz­ing treat­ment, and the devast­at­ing consequences result­ing from mass incar­cer­a­tion.

The racial dispar­it­ies in our justice system are vast. One in 3 Black men are incar­cer­ated in their life­times compared to one in 17 white men. Our pris­ons, with popu­la­tions that are dispro­por­tion­ately Black, have repor­ted over 34,000 people who have tested posit­ive for Covid-19, in less than four months. Hundreds of incar­cer­ated people have already died from the virus.

The over-poli­cing of margin­al­ized communit­ies and the creation and continu­ation of mass incar­cer­a­tion are delib­er­ate policy choices. We hope this is a turn­ing point for our coun­try, a time when we can reima­gine our system of justice, work­ing with communit­ies to redefine public safety and signi­fic­antly shrink­ing our jail and prison popu­la­tions.

We’ve seen that elec­ted prosec­utors, judges, public defend­ers, and correc­tional agen­cies can work together to keep the justice system from adding to the devast­at­ing effects of the coronavirus. Prosec­utors are declin­ing to initi­ate new prosec­u­tions for low-level offenses that do not implic­ate public safety. Courts have waived the collec­tion of their fees and fines. Some jails and pris­ons have released vulner­able citizens to reduce the spread of Covid-19, without jeop­ard­iz­ing public safety.

This is a crit­ical moment when we need to make sure we finally carve out a new approach to justice in Amer­ica.