10 Ways You Can Help Fight for Racial Justice
TEN ACTIONS YOU CAN UNDERTAKE FOR RACIAL JUSTICE
1. Direct Participation: Join with groups that are working to effect change or improve conditions in areas that are largely minority in population. This includes everything from joining your local Black Lives Matter chapter (blacklivesmatter.com) to participating in the South Jersey Land and Water Trust’s (sjlandwater.org) habitat protection and enhancement project with the Camden Power Corps at the Cramer Hill Preserve in Camden.
2. Police Actions: Find out if your local police department outfits all on-duty police officers with a body-worn camera and requires that the camera be turned on immediately when officers respond to a police call. Also find out if your city or town currently employs evidence-based police de-escalation trainings. The racial make-up of your town doesn’t matter for either item – they need to be standard everywhere. If they don’t use these techniques, write to your city or town government and police chief to advocate for both measures. Solicit others to advocate as well.
4. Criminal Justice: Call or write your federal and state legislators and governor for criminal justice reform including reducing mandatory minimum sentences, reducing sentences for non-violent drug crimes, passing “safety valve” laws to allow judges to depart from minimum sentences, providing alternatives to incarceration, and requiring racial impact statements for all criminal justice bills.
- Reform the career offender guideline to lessen the length of sentences
- Change the criminal history guidelines so that a person’s criminal record counts against them less
- Change guidelines to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes
- Conduct a study to review the impact of parental incarceration on minor children
- With more data, the Commission could modify the Sentencing Guidelines and allow judges to take this factor into account when sentencing individuals for non-violent crimes.
- Conduct a study to review whether the Bureau of Prisons is following the Commission’s encouragement to file a motion for compassionate release whenever “extraordinary and compelling reasons” exist.
- Consider amending the guidelines to reduce sentences for first offenders.
- Change the guidelines so that more people get probation
7. Cash Bail: Contact your state legislators to urge ending cash bail. Support organized efforts to this end by donating to groupsto groups such as The Bail Project (bailproject.org). Cash bail requirements mean that someone who is legally innocent is put in jail because they can’t afford bail. It means that a defendant can be released pre-trial because of their wealth, not how much of a flight risk they are.