Ending Mass Incarceration
The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of its prisoners. That’s not necessary to keep our communities safe. And mass incarceration has crushing consequences: racial, economic, social. We fight to reduce the number of people unnecessarily behind bars at the state and federal level. And we advocate for alternatives to prison and changes to sentencing laws that better align our approach to punishment with the goal of rehabilitation.
- Groundbreaking Brennan Center research showed nearly 40 percent of the U.S. prison population is unnecessarily behind bars.
- Our legislation, introduced by Sen. Cory Booker, would incentivize states to lower imprisonment rates while keeping crime low.
- We work with elected prosecutors and other experts to rethink how prosecutors can address inequalities in the justice system.
- We fight for federal sentencing reform as the heart of any criminal law changes.
Ending the Criminalization of Poverty
Some Americans remain in jail for years ahead of a trial because they can’t afford bail. Others cycle in and out because they can’t pay fees and fines levied by a court. A person’s wealth should not determine whether they’re in jail. We push to end cash bail, to adjust fees and fines to match a person’s ability to pay, and to fix racial inequalities in the system.
Ending Felony Disenfranchisement
The Brennan Center has long led the fight to restore voting rights to those with past convictions — ending an unfair system that is a remnant of Jim Crow.
Correcting the Record on Crime
Laws and practices that perpetuate mass incarceration often stem from misconceptions about crime. We produce regular analyses of crime rates in America, chart how those numbers have changed over time, and examine how our current crime decline can inform public safety solutions across the country.
- We showed that the crime rate declined in our 30 largest cities in 2017, undercutting efforts to stoke fear about rising crime.
- We documented how crime rates have plummeted since 1990 and remain near historic lows.
- We explained the causes of the dramatic drop in crime over recent decades, proving that more incarceration wasn't a key driver.
Combating Policies that Target Vulnerable Communities
We’ve seen a disturbing surge in attacks on Muslim and other minority communities — sometimes from the highest levels of government. Religious and ethnic profiling is unconstitutional and un-American. We’re fighting to end it.
- We took President Trump to court over his disastrous Muslim ban.
- We’re fighting back against unnecessary and discriminatory “extreme vetting” policies that seek to stifle legal immigration.
- We exposed government programs that claim to counter violent extremism as intelligence-gathering operations that target Muslims.