Vera Institute of Justice on the President’s State of the Union Address

This week, President Biden delivered his first State of the Union address. The Vera Institute of Justice issued the following statement:

“The Vera Institute of Justice applauds the President’s commitment in his first State of the Union address to tackle the many challenges and concerns facing the country, including the economy, climate change, the pandemic, and the situation in Ukraine. Notably, Biden laid out his approach to several priorities for the Vera Institute of Justice, including crime, public safety, and immigration.

We commend President Biden and the administration for supporting increases in mental health and other services for incarcerated people via the creation of the 988 mental health crisis service hotline. We look forward to working with the Biden administration and Congress to enact this balanced approach to leverage the federal American Rescue Plan to center justice and safety.

While unsurprising, the President announced increases in federal grants for already well-funded law enforcement agencies. However, we are hopeful that he will also follow through on his multibillion-dollar commitment to drastically increase federal resources for community-based violence interventions programs. These programs, which show promising results, use outreach, direct communication, and transformative relationships to engage, support, and address people at the greatest risk of gun violence.

Finally, we welcome President Biden’s commitment to providing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, people with temporary protected status, farm workers, and essential workers. This is a critical first step to creating a more fair, just, and humane immigration system. However, to truly advance liberty and justice for all, the President must work with Congress to advance policies to keep families together and center the dignity and freedom of everyone caught up in the broken immigration system. That includes restoring asylum, ending detention, and ensuring universal access to legal counsel as well as citizenship.

The President has a historic opportunity to mitigate the damage done by decades of failed policies and practices. The steps he announced this week must be only the beginning, not the conclusion, of the administration’s actions to create more just and equitable criminal legal and immigration systems.”

About the Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and activists working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit

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