Restoring balance to the criminal justice system

In an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee, Darren Walker issues a rallying cry, calling for reform of the US's “retributive and prejudicial” criminal justice system. “We know what works,” he writes. “And now is the time to rally behind these proven solutions and bring them to scale.”

Published in the Sacramento Bee | March 6, 2015
America's focus on punishment means injustice, inequality
By Darren Walker

From Oscar speeches to op-ed pages, our national conversation has finally focused on one of America’s most glaring affronts to democracy: our shameful record on mass incarceration.

We imprison some 2 million people, more than any other country. In the name of justice, we have witnessed—and, with our complicity, perpetuated—countless, unconscionable violations of it.

Why? Because our criminal justice system emphasizes criminalization over justice.

For years, punitive policies—the so-called war on drugs, “stop-and-frisk,” the “broken windows” theory and the “three strikes” theology—have conspired to reinforce injustice and inequality. Together, they have produced an overrepresentation of people of color in our prisons and jails. Today, more African Americans are part of the criminal justice system than were enslaved on the eve of the Civil War.

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The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.