As legislative sessions are concluding across the country, Representative Julie Emerson (R-LA), Senator Dennis Parrett (D-KY), and Senator John Proos (R-MI) joined Justice Action Network Executive Director Holly Harris to highlight notable successes on justice reform in their home states. While discussion continues around the introduction of federal legislation, the Justice Action Network and its state-based and national partners have already achieved significant state legislative successes in Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Tennessee, with additional reforms poised for passage in yearlong legislative sessions in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. This legislation will strengthen public safety, save valuable taxpayer resources, and make our justice system fairer for all communities.
“We started with seven national partners that rarely agree on anything, but had the courage to reach across the aisle and work together on smart justice reforms. Over the past two years, we’ve crisscrossed the country, quadrupling our priority states and passing dozens of significant reforms in states like Kentucky, Louisiana, and Michigan. Now it’s time to shine attention on those successes and our state-based partners that made them happen, and remind Congress of the movement happening in their own backyards,” said Holly Harris, Justice Action Network Executive Director. “Our new logo, the red and blue shield, signifies the bipartisan organizations all across the country fighting to pass smart reforms that will safely reduce prison and jail populations, put people back to work, save taxpayer money, and make our communities safer. Our partners like the Buckeye Institute in Ohio, the Second Chance Coalition in Minnesota, and Kentucky Youth Advocates in Kentucky are the true superheroes of this movement, and our hope is that Congress will see that these leaders back home are moving forward with reforms, regardless of the rhetoric in Washington. The Justice Action Network will continue growing our state and local relationships, and beating the drum for state successes, until Congress can no longer ignore them.”
Listen to the announcement call below:
The Justice Action Network unveiled a new logo, name, and brand today that celebrates partnerships with faith-based and family organizations, law enforcement groups, civil rights advocates, progressive and conservative think tanks, and influential business voices, all of which have been an integral part of successful reform initiatives.
The Justice Action Network works in more than a dozen states in support of legislation that offers treatment and rehabilitative alternatives to incarceration for low-level, non-violent offenders, expands recidivism-reduction programming, removes obstacles to employment for those with records, and updates archaic criminal codes. These reforms have proven to lower crime and recidivism rates and save significant taxpayer dollars. Some notable successes from the most recent legislative sessions include:
KENTUCKY: In Kentucky, the Justice Action Network worked a bipartisan group of lawmakers and the Governor to pass new reforms that will reduce barriers to reentry, increase employment opportunities for those who are leaving incarceration, and improve public safety by putting people to back work so they turn away from crime for good.
LOUISIANA: In Louisiana, the Justice Action Network worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, advocates, and the Governor to pass legislation born out of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Justice Reinvestment Initiative. The successful package of reforms included sentencing reforms for nonviolent and drug offenses, stronger probation and community supervision practices, reentry reforms including payment plans for those unable to pay fines and fees and access to occupational licenses, and an improved victims’ notification system.
MICHIGAN: The Justice Action Network worked closely with Senator Proos in Michigan to pass a package of bipartisan reforms to the parole, probation and prison systems. These laws will reduce recidivism, improve public safety, and put a dent in the $2 billion the Department of Corrections spends annually. The bills passed with broad bipartisan support and will make Michigan communities safer.
IOWA: In Iowa, the Justice Action Network worked with legislators to pass reforms to civil asset forfeiture practices and initial mandatory minimum sentencing reforms. These bills passed with strong bipartisan support and will strengthen property protections while creating a more effective justice system.
TENNESSEE: The Justice Action Network worked with the Tennessee Coalition for Sensible Justice and lawmakers to reform juvenile expungement laws, reduce the fee for expungements, and ease the burden of fines and fees associated with driver’s license revocation. The new juvenile expungement legislation improves notice and provides earlier access to expungement for eligible youth, which in turn increases the likelihood of education and employment.
ARIZONA: Bipartisan lawmakers and a broad network of organizations in Arizona worked hand-in-hand with the Justice Action Network to pass common sense reforms to civil asset forfeiture laws. This legislation – passed with near unanimous support -strengthens protections for private property owners and ensures better due process in forfeiture procedures.