Criminal Justice Focus Issues
We’re helping partners prove that ‘tough’ vs ‘soft’ on crime is a false choice — and that ‘smart on crime’ is the better path.
There are many things wrong with the criminal justice system: too many people are being sent to prison, trust is eroding between communities and police, and society is paying a terrible price in both wasted dollars and ruined lives. Stand Together is empowering partners to show how to fix a broken criminal justice system, one that decreases prison populations, improves public safety, and offers second chances to those who deserve them.
The criminal justice system traps people in a vicious cycle and makes it harder to rejoin society, leading to more crime and destroying lives.
Show it’s possible to build a better criminal justice system — one that treats people with dignity, strengthens communities, and makes society safer.
The Stand Together community has invested in nearly 150 partners, tackling criminal justice from every angle and reinforcing one another’s work.
First major federal criminal justice reform in 30 years, 100+ state reforms since 2018, changing attitudes toward criminal justice.
The past few years have made clear: There’s a crisis in criminal justice.
Too many people are being sent to prison, trust is eroding between communities and police, and society is paying a terrible price in both wasted dollars and ruined lives. Stand Together is empowering partners to show a better way, one that decreases prison populations, improves public safety, and offers second chances to those who deserve them.
Over 95% of people behind bars will re-enter society. We all have a stake in helping them rise.
The Challenge with the Criminal Justice System
We’re confronting a crisis more than 40 years in the making.
Since the 1970s, our society has tried to keep communities safe by bringing down the hammer. Yet the top-down “tough on crime” approach has hurt far more people than it has helped, and it has stayed dominant by casting anyone who disagrees as “soft on crime.”
Kids with parents behind bars — hurting their futures and crippling communities
Legal barriers blocking jobs and education for people with criminal records
Individuals re-arrested within four years of release — a vicious cycle that leaves all of us less safe
Elected officials have created more crimes and longer sentences, such that one-third of Americans now have a criminal record — more than 70 million people. More than 2 million people are behind bars at any given time, and while 95% of them are eventually released, they’re typically blocked from getting the education and opportunities they need to rise. The result is more poverty, more crime, and less public safety — the opposite of what criminal justice is supposed to achieve.
Of Americans want criminal justice to better prepare people to rejoin society
Americans know something’s wrong. Eight out of 10 people want to do a better job helping people rejoin society. That points to an urgent need for action — including state and federal criminal justice reform. Yet the false choice of “tough on crime” vs “soft on crime” continues to influence the national debate, preventing progress. That’s where the Stand Together community comes in.
Criminal Justice Reform Partnerships
Our partners tackle criminal justice from every angle — showing that we can have both more second chances and more safety.
It’s not an either-or. They’re proving that the way to do it isn’t through more top-down control but by empowering people from the bottom-up.
Community groups helping people rejoin society
Scholars researching criminal justice and actionable reforms — pre-prison, in prison, and post-prison
Businesses providing opportunity to people with criminal records
Our comprehensive strategy is key. By uniting partners across communities, education, business, and government, we’ve been able to multiply their effectiveness — and begin to drive the institutional change our society needs.
How We’ve Helped Reform the Criminal Justice System
Stand Together has helped unleash a national movement for change.
Our partners are driving real reform. The policies we’ve supported have led to lower incarceration rates and less crime. Despite predictions of doom and gloom, communities are now safer because more people have the chance to rejoin society and succeed.
Major federal criminal justice reform in 30 years achieved in 2018
State criminal justice reforms passed since 2018
But there’s much more work to do. We’re deepening and broadening our partnerships to fundamentally transform how America tackles criminal justice.
Criminal justice is starting to change. ‘Smart on crime’ is on the rise. All of us stand to reap the rewards.
Let's Work Together
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