Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal Justice Reform is a priority issue for education and advocacy at the LWVC.

The role of the criminal justice system is to prevent crime and promote public safety. Current research indicates successful systems focus on pre-trial diversion, rehabilitation and preventing recidivism. Some communities experience excessive force and surveillance by the police. People waste away in prisons serving extreme sentences. A growing national bipartisan consensus exists that the current criminal justice system needs reform to ensure its constitutionality and cost effectiveness. Community participation is essential.

The most effective criminal justice reforms consider the safety and well being of both peace officers and the communities they serve, especially people most impacted. It’s time to re-think the humanity of those who do harm, as well as understand the support — e.g. adequate training, clear performance standards, mental health services — needed by law enforcement.

The League of Women Voters of California has been very active in reforming California’s criminal legal system through advocacy. As co-sponsors of the Racial Justice Act and the Racial Justice Act for All, we worked diligently to ensure that anyone who experiences racism in their interaction with the legal system has a path forward to legally challenge such racist influences in their experience with the system. Together, these new laws apply looking forward and retroactively.

The LWVC is also heavily involved in co-sponsorship and coalition work on voting rights for individuals currently and formerly incarcerated. In partnership with our coalition, we have already restored the right to vote to formerly incarcerated individuals. And we continue to work to restore the right to vote to currently incarcerated people. Research shows that civic engagement and voting reduces recidivism rates, builds a sense of belonging and responsibility to the greater good, and creates safer communities. We continue to work with our partners to create new policy solutions at the intersection of criminal justice reform and voting rights.

We have an ambitious legislative agenda for criminal justice reform and you can see all of the bills we are working on at a given time by visiting our Bill Status Report, and selecting Criminal Justice.

How can you get involved?

Learn how you can become part of the League’s group of active volunteers on this issue!

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