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Throughout Common Cause’s 48 year history, our mission has been to promote an open, honest, and accountable government that ensures that ALL people have the power to make their voices heard in the political process.
The criminal justice system too often delivers injustice to people of color, targeting, arresting, and incarcerating them at a far higher rate than white Americans. In prison, on probation, and on parole, over 6.7 million people live under court-ordered supervision — and most have been stripped of the power to change the issues that most impact their lives because they have been deprived of the right to vote.
Prison gerrymandering allows states to legally draw shockingly unrepresentative districts that do not accurately reflect the makeup of communities — often causing the votes of rural white communities to be inflated by stealing seats from the home districts of people in prison that are usually more populated.
We also know that the influence of money in the correction industry compounds the problem. Our broken system of financing political elections and allows corporate lobby front groups like American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to invests millions of dollars each year to pass state laws that put corporate interests ahead of the interests of ordinary Americans.
Racism, profiteering, and overreach in our criminal justice system hurt our democracy’s ability to serve us and cost billions in tax dollars. Unless decisive action is taken, this injustice will continue to mushroom.
On June 28th, Common Cause launched a report entitled Democracy Behind Bars examining how corrections industry influence, felony disenfranchisement and prison gerrymandering fuel mass incarceration and undermine democracy. Democracy Behind Bars looks at our broken criminal justice system and how it is manipulated for the benefit and profit of the prison industry. The report goes on to examine the work going on in the states to restore voting rights to citizens who have served their time and to curb mass criminalization and incarceration.
With the launch of Common Cause’s mass incarceration project, we are reaffirming our commitment to educating our 1.2 million supporters that we cannot reach promise of democracy for all unless we take serious action to reform our criminal justice system and applying our experience in advancing democracy reform to assist individuals and organizations already working across the country for a criminal justice system that will deliver a more just and equitable future for everyone.