This page is for League members interested in Criminal Justice. We have two big areas of activity right now:
- Criminal Justice Education and Advocacy is happening across California.
- We would like to collaborate with other state Leagues in presenting a caucus at the LWV United States Convention in Washington DC June 25-28 2020. Please email criminaljustice <at> lwvc.org if you want to get involved, have questions, or concerns. We're looking for co-presenters!
The role of the criminal justice system is to prevent crime and promote public safety. Current research indicates successful systems focus on rehabilitation and support to prevent recidivism. However, some communities experience excessive force and surveillance by the police; other individuals waste away in prisons serving sentences far out of proportion to their offenses. A growing national bipartisan consensus exists that the current criminal justice system needs reform to ensure its constitutionality and cost effectiveness.
It is the goal of our task force to encourage all Leagues to help us restore the equity and balance of the criminal justice system through education and advocacy.
We hope that our California Criminal Justice position, supporting materials and committee members will assist your League in identifying key reform areas specific to your state and local communities.
What We Can Do
LWV California and Local Leagues are hosting events, partnering with local groups, holding workshops and forums, speaking out at government meetings, taking action on state and local legislation, and more. We will be creating Tool Kits for League to help engage your members at the local level, including resources on:
- Observer Corp: How to set up and manage League members' engagement. You can sign up for an online training from LWV San Francisco.
- Issue Presentation: Balancing Safety and Equity in the Criminal Justice System
You can view exiting positions in the LWV United States Clearinghouse. We urge you to post any new or missing related positions there.
We would be happy to give your League advice in any of these three circumstances:
- Program Planning: how to make Criminal Justice Reform an Education Issue for Emphasis in your League (you do not need to have a position, but if you do then this still applies)
- Program Planning: how to make Criminal Justice Reform an Advocacy Issue for Emphasis in your League (you must have a position to do this)
- Program Planning: how to propose concurrence locally or at the state level in order to adopt a position (if you don't already have one
Who's Working On It
We will be adding a thorough list of who is active soon. For now, check out the "Background Information" document below. Here are a few examples:
- LWV Montana is working through the process of adopting this position by concurrence.
- LWV Los Angeles has been active for decades. One example they'd like to share is their "10 Important Questions to Ask Your Police Department" flyer.
- LWV San Francisco became active in 2010. One example they'd like to share is their "Get To Know Your San Francisco Police" flyer.
- Definition of Criminal Justice Terms
- Suggested Reading on Criminal Justice
- Background Information - this was created for Leagues researching concurrence. It includes state and local positions, research (policing practices, pre-trial procedures, sentencing, incarceration, re-entry, and general information), and peripheral state and national positions.
Specific to California Local Leagues
- Members of the League in California are invited to join the Criminal Justice Reform GoogleGroup. This is intended to be a peer-to-peer forum for local Leagues to discuss relevant League positions, education opportunities, and possible concurrence or study at all levels of League.
- The ACLU has an excellent "Meet Your District Attorney" campaign in California.
- California Legislative Action: Based on our statewide positions, LWV California reviews bills before the State Legislature and takes action in support of or opposition to certain measures.
Who Is Leading This?
Following our statewide convention in 2017, a LWV California task force was created to review criminal justice positions from state and local Leagues across the country. Based on that research, they drafted this Criminal Justice position so that local Leagues can educate and advocate. At the 2019 LWV California Convention the position was adopted and Criminal Justice Reform was also made a key issue statewide. The original task force has disbanded, but those interested in this issue have been appointed to a California Criminal Justice Committee to work on this issue. More information will be added here to MyLO and to the LWVC.org Criminal Justice page soon.