Re-Entry Reform

Each year over 600,00 thousands citizens are released from federal, state and local prisons and jails throughout the United States. The concept of re-entry policies are focused on ensuring the opportunities and rights of the formerly incarcerated are met to encourage a smooth transition back to society. Various areas of policy have been highlighted that focus on the abilities of the formerly incarcerated to re-enter society. Areas such as access to public housing, voting rights, public assistance, and access to government student loans are critical to this process. Without these policies the formerly incarcerated face significant challenges for social reintegration back to our communities. Further, these policies have a number of unintended consequences, including recidivism, homelessness and perpetuation of poverty. EDI is committed to providing assistance to lawmakers, advocates, and stakeholders surrounding the issues of re-entry. See Report

Voting Rights

Prohibiting citizens from voting defies our democracy’s principle of one person, one vote. Yet across the country nearly six million citizens have been stripped of their right to vote due to prior convictions, even long after they have completed serving their sentences. The vast majority of these individuals, 75 percent, are no longer incarcerated and live in their communities without the ability to fully participate. EDI is committed to ensuring that the Right to Vote is not denied to those formerly incarcerated. Our belief is that every citizen has the right to vote whether incarcerated or not, incarceration should not determine one's ability to exercise this fundamental right. We believe in immediate restoration of voting rights for the formerly incarcerated, the potential to continued ignorance of full rights only on deteriorates the confidence in our democracy.  See Report.

Disproportionate Minority Contact

Youth of color are disproportionately overrepresented throughout juvenile justice systems in nearly every state. Disproportionality is recognized as a concerning problem by both states and the federal government. In response to the disconcerting numbers, state legislatures have taken measures to study the causes of disproportionality, identify strategies to reduce it and to create a fundamentally fair system. Strikingly, these reports resemble that of the adult criminal justice system. African American youth are four times more likely to be incarcerated than white youth.The federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), originally passed in 1974, sets standards for local and state juvenile justice systems and provides funding to encourage reform.  EDI is committed to supporting initiatives that address these issues. Research has shown that youth that have involvement with the juvenile justice system are more likely to enter adult correctional system, drop out of school and end up homeless. It is our responsibility to encourage and support policies that represent a fair and equal system of justice for youth of color.  See Report

Parole and Probation Reform

Although over 2.3 million Americans are currently doing time in prison, nearly 5 million Americans are on parole, probation or some other form of correctional supervision. This is unfortunate because those numbers have been increasing at a much faster rate and, as it turns out, have been helping to swell, rather than shrink, the very prison population they are supposed to reduce. Our Probation and parole system was designed to assist the those with involvement with the criminal justice system reestablish their lives. Unfortunately, probation and parole has led to the recidivism rates in America. Rates. Parole violators accounted for over a third of all prison admissions in 2005 and half the US jail population is the consequence of failure of community supervision. There are two ways parolees and probationers end up in prison: committing a new crime or committing a technical violation of their probation terms. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but analysts estimate that only about half of violations are the result of a new crime. Ideally, both scenarios can be avoided; the former by establishing adequate support systems to help offenders get jobs and get off drugs; the latter by exercising some common sense regarding what constitutes a violation. EDI is committed to supporting policies that improve current outcomes and create supervision consistent with the idea of re-entry and support. See Report

Prison Industrial Complex Reform

The Prison Industrial Complex in the short sense is the profiteering of corporate America with prison labor, and the involvement of private prison that are only functional based upon the bodies that that occupy the prisons. Reform of this system is critical in recognizing the humanity of those incarcerated. The system influences laws and policies that disproportionately affect african American communities. The utilization of prison labor by corporate America is one of the greatest atrocities of our time. Through this system men are forced to work or face disciplinary action, usually confinement (solitary confinement or the box). Through this system men are paid pennies for their labor. Corporations over charge families for what normally be free telephone calls and the list goes on. EDI is in support of initiatives that prohibit corporations involvement in the criminal justice system. See Report

Fair Chance Act - Employment

In October 2015 New York City became one of sixty cities and counties in the U.S. to have enacted fair chance policies, which prohibits employers from discriminating against those formerly incarcerated. The right to employment is the crux of our society for anyone, but this critical for the returning citizen to establish a means of income to support themselves and their families. Fundamentally we would hope that meaningful employment training would take place during the time of incarceration to better prepare individuals upon release. Founder of EDI, Terrance Coffie was fortunate enough to testify at the signing of this legislation in New York. The Fair Chance Act simply removes barriers to success for people who are qualified to work: not only does employment lower recidivism, but “banning the box” means employers get a broader range of candidates to consider. EDI believes that the Fair Chance Act should be federalized ensuring the opportunities for all Americans to gainful employment. See Report

Fair Pledge Act - Education

Education is one of the most effective tools in addressing recidivism, but more importantly exposure to educational opportunities for the formerly incarcerated lead to more fuller and successful lives. The fair Pledge Act seeks to ensure that that those who have had involvement with the criminal justice system are not denied the educational  opportunities. In 2016 25 institutions have taken the pledge to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed, including individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system. When an estimated 70 million or more Americans nearly one in three adults have a criminal record, it is important to remove unnecessary barriers that may prevent these individuals from gaining access to education and training that can be so critical to career success and lead to a fulfilled and productive life. EDI supports the Fair chance educational Pledge and seek to encourage other institutions across the country to join this mission. See Report