Vera Institute of Justice Calls on MSNBC to Make Criminal Justice Reform a Substantive Part of Nov. 20 Debate


Vera Institute of Justice Calls on MSNBC to Make Criminal Justice Reform a Substantive Part of Nov. 20 Debate

WASHINGTON, DC—As the qualifying Democratic candidates for President and MSNBC staff prepare for the next debate on November 20 in Atlanta, GA, the Vera Institute of Justice is calling on the debate moderators for this debate, and future debates within and across the political parties, to ask the candidates probing, substantive questions about the key challenges in our nation related to criminal justice.

Vera’s President, Nick Turner released the following statement:

“We are grateful that the recent forums in South Carolina and Pennsylvania have injected criminal justice into the campaign for the presidency, and the next nationally televised Democratic debate presents an opportunity for messages on these issues to reach a still broader audience. We live in an era of bipartisan consensus on the need for criminal justice reform. Across the nation, incarceration rates have started to trend downwards over recent years. However, this picture clouds the fact that one in two American adults has an immediate family member who is or has been incarcerated, that America still locks up far more people than any other nation, that racism is endemic to the current state of American criminal justice, and that reform has not turned back the crisis of jail incarceration in the nation’s rural communities and small and medium-sized cities. It is critical that our common American agenda addresses these urgent moral challenges and charts a different path to public safety and community.”

For close to 60 years, the non-partisan and non-profit Vera Institute of Justice has led efforts to study and develop effective solutions to some of the most serious and persistent justice system challenges at the federal, state, and local levels. Our work began in 1961 with the Manhattan Bail Project that aimed to end New York City’s over reliance on cash bail and ultimately led to the federal Bail Reform Act of 1966. We now work on close to 60 projects in 47 states in reforms ranging from a federal pilot program with the U.S. Department of Education to expand access nationwide to prison postsecondary education programs, working with state correctional agencies to limit the use of solitary confinement, building restorative correctional settings for young adults, partnering with local jurisdictions to reduce their over-use of jail incarceration, collaborating with reform-minded prosecutors to implement new policies, and expanding access to counsel for immigrants.