ISSUE AREA:
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

NETWORK believes mass incarceration in our nation denies the dignity of human life and harms communities. Policies must be passed to reform the U.S. criminal justice system.

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Our Position

Much of Catholic Social Justice is built around a vision of peaceful society. Peace is more than the absence of violence; it is the presence of right relationship. NETWORK envisions a society that respects the dignity and honors the potential of all its members – including those who are incarcerated – and supports family and community life.

The criminal justice system must be based on the principles of restoration, rehabilitation and mercy. We know that people experiencing poverty and people of color are disproportionately affected by our system of incarceration, which focuses on punishment rather than rehabilitation. NETWORK advocates for a just, equitable and restorative criminal justice system. Additionally, any loss  of human life to gun violence in a mass shooting, homicide, or suicide, is incompatible with our belief in the dignity of the human person. Gun control laws in the U.S. are inadequate and should protect the common good of our communities.

NETWORK Advocates for Federal Policies That:

Restore equity and proportionality in sentencing, and eliminate racial inequality in sentencing

Historical evidence and current statistics show that the U.S. criminal justice system is far from just. The criminal justice system has been disproportionately tough on people of color and low-income communities. Reducing mandatory-minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses and making sentencing reductions retroactive will begin to restore proportionality in sentencing.

Invest in reducing recidivism and build viable paths for reintegration into society

Our criminal justice system is marked by very high rates of recidivism, which results in large part from the lack of resources for returning citizens who have finished their sentence. NETWORK advocates for investment in practices and programs that reduce recidivism and funding for programs that assist returning citizens in securing housing and employment.

Reduce spending on prisons and redirect savings to support the common good

The human and social costs of our broken criminal justice system are not the only cost affecting our country; the economic cost of mass incarceration is unmanageable and immoral.  Federal and state level spending on criminal justice costs billions of dollars every year, consuming funds that are desperately needed for other purposes. Education, health, and community development suffer when our nation’s costly and ineffective prison system is wasting so much of our discretionary spending.

From the Advocacy Toolbox:

Policy Solutions
  • Bipartisan Sentencing Reform
  • Ban the Box