As everybody knows, when you are convicted of a crime you get a punishment. Your punishment can be a fine, jail time, or probation. But as everyone also knows, there are other consequences of being convicted of a crime that have nothing to do with the punishments that are on the books. In law, we call these “collateral consequences.”
- FairnessA person’s racial or ethnic group, economic background, or native language must not affect sentencing, punishment while in prison, access to education and job opportunities, parole, or re-entry supports.
- Doing What WorksOur state’s criminal justice system should be accountable for using the practices that have been shown to reduce the likelihood of crimes and recidivism. For example, we know that family ties and visitors can reduce recidivism, so it is important that people who are incarcerated are assisted to maintain these critical connections with community.
- Good StewardshipWhere sensible use of state resources can strengthen our communities to help them prevent crime – for example, through evidence-based programs for at-risk youth – we think this is a better use of our money than lengthy incarceration.
- Second ChancesWe believe that people can change. Given opportunities and support, people who have been incarcerated can choose to return to their communities and families as productive citizens.
- AccountabilityThe state criminal justice system should maintain the data needed to be accountable to citizens. For example, it should be prepared to report on the racial and ethnic group of people in solitary confinement, the length of solitary confinement, and the alternatives to solitary confinement; the number of incarcerated persons who speak languages other than English and how the system is addressing communication issues; the mental health status of persons incarcerated and the measures taken to assist them in recovery.
- Opportunities for ChangeMany people involved with the criminal justice system have experienced trauma, are mentally ill, or have become addicted to substances. Others have learning disabilities, have never learned to read, or are developmentally impaired. We believe in access to treatment, in-prison opportunities, and community supports to help individuals turn their lives around.
- Community SafetyWe believe in safe, healthy communities. We believe all of us are safer when we use evidence-based interventions at every phase of involvement in the criminal justice system. We are all safer when:
- sound community programs are available to prevent crime (for example, mentoring programs for at-risk youth);
- first offenders receive evidence-based interventions that help them avoid further involvement (for example, a diversion to treatment or mediation where appropriate);
- those who are incarcerated have opportunities to turn their lives around (for example, through fully funded NA and AA programs and opportunities to learn a skill); and
- returning citizens do not face barriers to finding treatment, jobs, and housing and are fully supported in their transition to community life so they never go back to prison.
Did You Know ...
Robert Reich on Mass Incarceration