(AUSTIN, Texas) — We applaud Sheriff Greg Hamilton’s recognition that our criminal justice system is “not functioning as it should” as he called today for more to be done to end mass incarceration. Specifically, the sheriff said that the United States spends too much money incarcerating too many people, and the result does not increase public safety. Indeed, according to the NAACP, $70 billion are spent yearly on corrections. This expensive criminal justice system does not serve taxpayers and disproportionately impacts people of color. The JFA Institute’s Unlocking America report illuminates this fact in its estimate that if African Americans and Latinos were incarcerated at the same rates as whites, the prison population would decrease by 50%.
“The Sheriff is correct in stating that mass incarceration is a threat to American democracy,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. “As a proudly progressive community, Travis County should lead the way in reducing incarceration, prioritizing reintegration efforts for those impacted by the criminal justice system, and eliminating practices that disproportionately harm people of color.”
Grassroots Leadership today released principles for a Real Justice Budget to guide Travis County Commissioners as they embark on the budgeting process. The principles specifically call for an end to the county’s cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to return in-person visitation to the Travis County Jail. Grassroots Leadership will ask Travis County residents to sign on to these principles to urge County Commissioners to pass a budget that will advance real justice in our community.
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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works to end for-profit incarceration and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention through direct action, organizing, research, and public education.
Cristina Parker, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-499-8111