On December 1st, we had a party in New York to celebrate the Movement Wins of 2015.
2015 has been a year of much loss. The frightening escalation of racist and transphobic violence is traumatizing. But simultaneously, the movement to transform the criminal justice system is only getting stronger and stronger--from the moment of first contact with law enforcement, to the treatment of people while incarcerated, to formerly incarcerated people's access to rights and opportunities.
Check out this list of wins we've had just this year! Imagine what we can do in 2016 when we continue to invest in this movement!
Note: This list is not comprehensive. (We hope!) It's what we compiled with the help of grantees with the help of the article, "10 Ways that Black Lives Matter is already winning" by Cassandra Fairbanks. Since we first posted this list, we have heard about three new huge victories! We hope we see more before the end of the year, and we'll continue to update the list!
Obama banned the box on federal government job applications, removing automatic disqualification for employment due to a previous conviction. CJI Grantee All of Us or None originated this campaign.
Long-term organizing effort to achieve this win was led by CJI Grantee Justice Now in a coalition of women’s organizations both inside and outside of prison!
Solitary Confinement Ended for Thousands!
- As part of a lawsuit settlement with the state in response to years of organizing by prisoners and their families and communities, including CJI Grantees California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Freedom Archives and All of Us or None, California ended indiscriminate and long-term solitary confinement.
- New York committed to make major changes in the use of solitary confinement in New York prisons, including the placement of an estimated 1,000 people in less isolated housing.
Previous CJI Grantee Witness to Innocence, an organization of exonerated death row survivors and their families, spoke out and met with politicians to help achieve this win.
California expanded its Alternative Custody Program, allowing early release from prison to home confinement for parents of young children. CJI grantee California Coalition for Women Prisoners was part of the organizing that led to this victory.
- Members of CJI Grantee All of Us or None including CJI Circle Member George Galvis were plaintiffs in a historic California Supreme Court victory that re-enfranchised an estimated 60,000 people.
- In November, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear restored voting rights to 170,000 people in a historic victory.
Reducing biased policing
- Cleveland police department agreed to train all officers to minimize racial bias.
- Maryland became the first state to ban all law enforcement from engaging in discriminatory decisions based on appearance.
- California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, which requires uniform data collection on police stops by law enforcement agencies and updates California's definition of racial and identity profiling to include gender and sexual orientation.
In May, Tuskegee became the first city in Alabama to enact an immigrant "TRUST Act" policy, joining over 250 cities nationwide in decoupling Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local police.
The city of Portland, Oregon, Columbia University,the New York State United Teachers Union, the California Endowment, and the University of California joined CJI Grantee Enlace’s campaign to divest of holdings in private prisons!
This December, San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously against construction of a new jail. CJI Grantees California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Enlace, Justice Now, and TGI Justice Project worked in coalition with many others to achieve this victory.
After a meeting with formerly incarcerated leaders including CJI Grantees with government officials, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice are starting a pilot program that will give eligible incarcerated students the opportunity to receive federal funding to obtain bachelor’s or professional degrees.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the 2015 Anti-Shackling Bill banning shackling of people in labor and expanding on the 2009 ban.
Community Oversight of Police Departments
- Over 120 communities nationwide now have some form of civilian review board for police misconduct.
- Cleveland Police announced in May they will have a civilian head the department’s internal affairs division.
Independent Investigation and Prosecution of Police
The FCC has put a limit on the exorbitant cost of prison phone calls, ending a decade-long campaign by prisoners and their families and communities.
Limits on Use of Force by Police
In May, Cleveland agreed to limit use-of-force following days of protests in response to killings by police.
- Police departments in 41 of the most populous cities in the U.S. have body cameras for at least some of the officers, and 25 cities have plans to implement them.
- California passed a law reaffirming the public’s right to film police.
Police Training in De-Escalation
The Federal Interagency Reentry Council announced they’d release a set of guidelines Public Housing Agencies regarding the re-entry of people with convictions into public and Section 8 Housing in response to a decade-long campaign led by multiple CJI Grantees in coalition with others; a tremendous gain for family reunification and a blow to state-sanctioned discrimination.
Ending For-Profit Policing
Demilitarization of Police
- New Jersey, Montana, and Utah all passed laws restricting the use of military equipment in actions on civilians.
- President Barack Obama banned police departments from obtaining certain military equipment from the program, such as tracked armored vehicles.