Criminal Justice Reform

For decades LatinoJustice PRLDEF has used litigation, advocacy, and community education and mobilization to eradicate unlawful discrimination against Latino communities by protecting their legal rights. That work has now led us to address the rights of prisoners, former prisoners, and victims of racial profiling and police abuse, with the goal of reducing mass incarceration and promoting policies and laws that ensure successful reentry and lower recidivism among persons with criminal histories.

LJPs criminal justice, policing and drug policy reform work extends into a number of critical areas: racial profiling (e.g. Stop and Frisk in NYC or profiling on perceived immigration status; policing reform including litigation in New York City and in Long Island, and against ICE agents in NYS); marijuana arrest reform especially in New York State; bail reform and alternatives to pretrial incarceration; reducing jail populations (e.g. the Lippman commission exploring the closing of Rikers); telephone justice to promote lower-cost communications between prisoners and their families (in NJ); national and international drug policy reform; anti-death penalty advocacy; sentencing reform; prison gerrymandering litigation and advocacy, felon disfranchisement litigation and advocacy (especially in Florida); juvenile justice reform; employment discrimination litigation and advocacy for persons with previous criminal histories, executive clemency, and transparency and availability of Latino data in criminal justice systems.

Programs

Rights Restoration Project

LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s Rights Restoration Project provides legal assistance and advocacy to formerly incarcerated Latinos seeking clemency to restore their voting rights. Our goal is to end the systematic disenfranchisement of Latinos and other communities of color in Florida. Read the full description of our Rights Restoration Project in Florida here.

Drug Policy Reform:

In the United States the disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans and Latinos is fueled by the War on Drugs which explains why the country has 5% of the world population but 25% of the world’s prisoners. LatinoJustice works to pressure the judiciary and the legislature to change draconian drug policies and to develop policies that are focused on treatment rather than punishment. Read more about a convening we facilitated to address Drug Policy in collaboration with other Latino/a groups here.

Police Reform

The targeting of Latinos/as by local police has been a prevalent problem at precincts around the country. This is true in everywhere from New York City Police Department who was found to have implemented a racially bias stop and frisk policy all the way to a police precinct in county where a local police officer was able to stop and rob over 20 Latinos over many years without the local precinct acting to stop him. You can read the latest updates about our work on police reform by clicking here.

Immigration Enforcement Policy

Latino/a communities are often targeted by excessive policing by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and this leads to a number of Civil Rights violations. In an effort to reduce and prevent these civil rights violations we are working within rapid response networks to provide support for individuals who have visits ICE visits and/or are picked up in ICE raids. There are a number of rights that everyone has as it relates to immigration enforcement and we remain vigilant in making sure that those rights are respected. You can see the slides from a Know Your Rights presentation that we participated in here.

Criminal Justice Legislation

LatinoJustice follows a number of laws at the local and national level about Criminal Justice Reform. Check back here regularly for updates on specific laws that hurt or benefit the community. The featured Criminal Justice Reform Legislation will be updated on a monthly basis. The first piece of legislation that we want to highlight is the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 and the REDEEM Act (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment). These bills seek to improve juvenile record confidentiality, automatically seal nonviolent juvenile offenses that occur after a child has reached the age of fifteen, recalibrate prison sentences for certain drug offenders and grant judges greater discretion at sentencing for lower-level drug crimes. You can read more about the bills here.

Criminal Justice Reform Updates

El Color De La Justicia - The New Jim Crow

El Color de la Justicia is the Spanish version of the New York Times bestseller The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, about race and mass incarceration in the United States. The book from professor Michelle Alexander, which has sold over a million copies, has enormous relevant for Latinos/as. This edition includes a new introduction from Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel at LatinoJustice, which analyzes thh relationship between Latinos/as and the criminal justice system in the United States throughout the years.

Westchester Activists Urge DA to Create Special Unit to Serve Immigrant Community

LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Hudson Valley Community Coalition and the Westpac Foundation have sent a letter to Westchester District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino urging him to create an Office of Immigrant Affairs to better serve Latina/o/x’s and other immigrant residents in the lower Hudson Valley.

National Experts on Latinos & Criminal Justice Reform will Convene in Orlando

More than 30 scholars, reformers, activist, lawyers and policy analysts will gather in Orlando on April 18-19 to discuss issues around Latinos and the criminal justice system. The free, open-to-the-public convening will cover topics such as the death penalty, felon disenfranchisement, bail reform, drug policy, and ICE raids and detainers.

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