The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is an unprecedented, multiyear effort to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50% and to combat racial disparities in the criminal justice system. We are working in all 50 states for reforms to usher in a new era of justice in America.
The ACLU of Indiana fights to protect the rights of individuals at every aspect of the criminal justice system. We opposed legislation dictating DNA collection of arrestees in the statehouse, and we have worked with local law enforcement on developing stronger implicit bias training. We hold law enforcement and elected officials accountable for keeping their city safe for all and ensuring that their practices deescalate violence instead of entice it. And, we work to reduce jail overcrowding.
Across the country, the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice is fighting in the legislatures, the courts, and in the streets to end mass incarceration.
Reforming Policies: We are fighting for nationwide reforms to police practices, indigent defense systems, and government abuses of authority in the name of fighting crime.
Sentencing Reform: We must reduce both the number of people entering jails and prisons and the extreme laws and policies that drive extraordinarily long prison terms.
Bail Reform: Unjust and for-profit bail systems needlessly lock up millions of people who haven’t been convicted of a crime just because they can’t afford to pay bail. We’re overhauling this harmful system that strips people of their rights, targets poor people and people of color, and hurts families and communities.
Prosecutorial Reform: Prosecutors across the country work towards convictions, not justice. These mostly elected officials bear great responsibility for driving mass incarceration. We’re changing that by challenging prosecutorial abuse in the courts and legislatures and through voter education.
Parole Reform: Hundreds of thousands of people—including those convicted of violent and non-violent crimes—stay in prison for too long because of broken parole and release systems. By expanding evidence-based opportunities for release, we are working to ensure systems are fair, respect people’s rights, and promote safety and success for those returning to their communities.
- Reentry: Each year, 600,000 men and women nationwide return from prison to their communities. Yet the challenges do not end once the prison bars are lifted. They face nearly 50,000 federal, state and local legal restrictions that make it difficult to reintegrate back into society. We are working to end the collateral consequences that are imposed on people living with a criminal record.
America, land of the free, has earned the disturbing distinction of being the world’s leading jailer. Representing just 5 percent of the world’s population, we now hold 25 percent of its inmates. The “tough on crime” politics of the 1980s and 1990s fueled an explosion in incarceration rates. By the close of 2010, America had 1,267,000 people behind bars in state prisons, 744,500 in local jails, and 216,900 in federal facilities—more than 2.2 million people locked in cages. The ACLU believes that together we can cut that number in half by 2020.