Engaging the Jewish Community in Criminal Justice

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Criminal Justice Reform Initiative

JCPA’s Criminal Justice Initiative educates and empowers the Jewish community relations field to advocate on criminal justice reform at the national and local level, fostering relationships and building alliances between Jews and communities of color, policy work to improve law enforcement practices, and developing pilot projects in the field to support communities in crises. We do this by mobilizing these communities against the modern day Civil Rights violation we call Mass Incarceration.

Click here to download our Criminal Justice Reform Toolkit.

Recommended Viewing

Videos are an excellent way to learn about criminal justice reform. We encourage you to organize a “lunch and learn” and/or viewing party with a discussion session afterward. Suggested videos include:

VICE Special: Fixing the System

Netflix Documentary: 13th

VICELAND: The War on Weed

Recommended Reading

Collective reading and book clubs are an effective way to raise awareness about the criminal justice system and systemic racism, and the impact on our country and our communities, particularly communities of color.

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Additional Resources

T’ruah: Handbook for Jewish Communities Fighting Mass Incarceration

Repair the World, in partnership with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, OneTable and Gather: Turn the Tables on Racial Justice: Shabbat Dinner Host Guide

Your support is urgently needed to tackle Criminal Justice Reform.

Dollar for Dollar Matching Gift.

Support JCPA’s Criminal Justice Initiative.

Your gift will help us:

MOBILIZE at the state and local levels

ADVOCATE to change unjust laws

SUPPORT people and families impacted by incarceration

Know the Facts

The U.S. has just 4.4% of the world’s population, but houses roughly 25% of the world’s prisoners—over 2.2 million people.

The U.S. prison incarceration rate increased 400% between 1970 and 2000.

Between the years of 2010 and 2015, 11 states reduced their prison populations while simultaneously increasing the number of people in jails.

Over 2.7 million children have at least one parent in prison.

Despite similar levels of drug usage, 66% of drug offenders are black and Latino—that’s roughly 10x the rate of white users.

At the current pace, it will be 146 years until the U.S. prison incarceration rates are as low as they were in 1970.

The Language of Engagement on Criminal Justice Reform

By Roy Waterman, Criminal Justice Project Manager

I am delighted to begin this new role as JCPA’s Project Manager on Criminal Justice Reform. I look forward to working with JCRCs, Federations and national organizations in developing their criminal justice work and engagement with people of color.

You may be aware of the many flaws in our current criminal justice system. Our quest to dismantle and recreate our criminal justice system begins with the language we use when we describe those who have broken the norms of society. Click here to read more.