WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union joined a broad coalition of groups today to highlight the enormous social and fiscal cost of America’s addiction to incarceration and efforts to shift the government’s focus and resources from locking people up to education. The ACLU joined NAACP and Americans for Tax Reform to discuss a new report, “Misplaced Priorities: Over Incarcerate, Under Educate.” The release of the report, published by the NAACP, gave today’s groups common ground to discuss excessive and needless government spending on mass incarceration and offer viable and smart solutions to reform the criminal justice system.
The ACLU has made reform of the nation’s criminal justice system a top organizational priority and is capitalizing on its presence in all 50 states to actively work with bipartisan coalitions to reduce the number of people behind bars and create a criminal justice system that is fair, better protects our public safety and cuts excessive corrections spending.
The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
“The ACLU is in a unique position to fight for criminal justice reform given our state affiliates. Our 53 affiliates allow us to have a voice and presence on the ground in state legislatures and courtrooms across the country, working with lawmakers of every ideology to advance our work…
“Tough on crime should not mean criminalizing our nation’s youth. The juvenile justice system has countless entry points and our schools have become one of these points. Often, after entering the juvenile justice system, children then become entangled in the criminal justice system. It’s time for our communities, our lawmakers and law enforcement to come up with real, workable solutions to keeping our kids out of jail and in classrooms where they belong. On this issue, we cannot and will not fail.
“The ACLU, for its part, will continue to make it a priority to work with these groups on decreasing our prison population and promoting a smart and fair criminal justice system that truly lives up to its name.”
The following can be attributed to Vanita Gupta, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:
“This is an historic opportunity for the ACLU to join forces with a diverse coalition to end our nation’s senseless addiction to incarceration and advance smarter criminal justice policies that reduce both corrections spending and our bloated prison populations. Spending enormous amounts of money to lock people up unnecessarily is unfair, fiscally irresponsible and does not protect our public safety.”