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President Obama Points to Criminal Justice System During March on Washington Anniversary

President Bill Clinton and Rep. John Lewis Echo Attorney General Eric Holder's Call to End Harsh Criminal Justice Policies

WASHINGTON, D.C.
– As President Obama said today from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the U.S. justice system should not be a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. Adding to that sentiment today was President Bill Clinton and Rep. John Lewis, each echoing Attorney General Eric Holder’s August 12 call to usher in a new approach to the nation’s criminal justice system – a sign that we are moving in the right direction. 

“Today’s statements about our criminal justice system by our nation’s leaders lets the nation and the world know that reform is needed more than ever, and can’t wait any longer," said JPI Executive Director Marc Schindler. “With President Obama shouting from the ‘mountaintops’ that our incarceration policies have sent more people to prison than any other country, justice system reform cannot be ignored. Our President understands the impacts of racial profiling and sentencing disparities, and he wants the nation, as well, to understand the widespread impact of incarceration and its collateral consequences. Now is the time for action!"

The Justice Policy Institute’s research, briefs and resources offer guidance, background and context for why the U.S. must reduce our reliance on incarceration and implement policies that improve the well-being of all people and communities.President Obama stated: “The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn't bend on its own. To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether it's by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all in the criminal justice system and not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails – it requires vigilance.”

Rep Lewis stated: “The scars and stains of racism still remain deeply embedded in American society, whether it is stop and frisk in New York or injustice in [the] Trayvon Martin case in Florida, the mass incarceration of millions of Americans, immigrants hiding in fear in the shadow of our society, unemployment, homelessness, poverty, hunger or the renewed struggle for voting rights.”

President Bill Clinton added: “There remain racial inequalities in employment, income, health, wealth, incarceration, and in the victims and perpetrators of violent crime. But we don’t face beatings, lynchings and shootings for our political beliefs anymore.”

With the U.S. continuing to lead the world in its incarceration rates for adults and harsh sentencing policies for youth, we have a long way to go. Policy reform is desperately needed to address issues like use of private prisons, "Stand your Ground" laws, police deployment, effective representation in court, bail practices and overuse of secure confinement.

The Justice Policy Institute, based in Washington, DC, is working to reduce the use of incarceration and the justice system and promote policies that improve the well-being of all people and communities. For JPI reports visit our website at www.justicepolicy.org.

As President Obama said today from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the U.S. justice system should not be a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails.

Adding to that sentiment today was President Bill Clinton and Rep. John Lewis, each echoing Attorney General Eric Holder’s August 12 call to usher in a new approach to the nation’s criminal justice system – a sign that we are moving in the right direction. 

“Today’s statements about our criminal justice system by our nation’s leaders lets the nation and the world know that reform is needed more than ever, and can’t wait any longer," said JPI Executive Director Marc Schindler. “With President Obama shouting from the ‘mountaintops’ that our incarceration policies have sent more people to prison than any other country, justice system reform cannot be ignored. Our President understands the impacts of racial profiling and sentencing disparities, and he wants the nation, as well, to understand the widespread impact of incarceration and its collateral consequences. Now is the time for action!"

The Justice Policy Institute’s research, briefs and resources offer guidance, background and context for why the U.S. must reduce our reliance on incarceration and implement policies that improve the well-being of all people and communities.

President Obama stated: “The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn't bend on its own. To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether it's by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all in the criminal justice system and not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails – it requires vigilance.”

Rep Lewis stated: “The scars and stains of racism still remain deeply embedded in American society, whether it is stop and frisk in New York or injustice in [the] Trayvon Martin case in Florida, the mass incarceration of millions of Americans, immigrants hiding in fear in the shadow of our society, unemployment, homelessness, poverty, hunger or the renewed struggle for voting rights.”

President Bill Clinton and Rep. John Lewis Echo Attorney General Eric Holder's Call to End Harsh Criminal Justice Policies

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