America has one of the largest per capita prison populations in the world -- and it has disproportionately affected African Americans and people of color to create a new caste system.

See legal scholar Michelle Alexander speak with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now! about the causes and consequences of mass incarceration

Forty-five years of the "war on crime" and the "war on drugs" – fig-leafs for white racial anxiety that have been promoted by both Republicans and Democrats – have led to the militarization of our police and the development of a punitive criminal justice system that has only extended the historical damage done to the African-American community and to race relations more broadly. At the same time, African-Americans continue to be subject to discrimination through voting restrictions that disproportionately affect their access to the ballot box, as well as through affordable housing arrangements that lead to their segregation into communities in which poor performing schools, inadequate healthcare, "food deserts", and degraded environments are the rule rather than the exception.

We believe it is time for these “savage inequalities” to stop once and for all. We therefore support broad criminal justice reforms that begin to reverse the damage by de-criminalizing nonviolent, victimless offenses, investing in treatment programs for people with drug addictions and mental illness, taking the profit motive out of the corrections system, and empowering law enforcement to be true partners to the communities they serve while removing the incentives for engaging in excessively (and, in too many cases, lethal) punitive action. We also support redirecting some of the money that is used to pay for riot gear and more prisons toward investments in education and nutrition programs in poor communities and communities of color. And we support bold enforcement of existing fair housing regulations to ensure that African-Americans are not shut out of white communities – as well as the development of new regulations that put an end to voting restrictions that have only one purpose: To deny African-Americans and other minorities the right to vote.

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