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Issue Area: Human Rights


Introduction


America’s political and legal systems should uplift its most marginalized communities by providing justice and safety to those who need it most. These societal responsibilities belong to the state and should operate with democratic public oversight -- human rights should not be a bottom-line for a corporation.

We must continue to combat the privatization of human rights and build a justice system that:

  • Values rehabilitation and reentry, not incarceration and profit
  • Re-defines the concept of public safety in our communities
  • Re-asserts public control over safety of our communities so that every individual is treated equitably in our civil and legal systems
  • Holds itself accountable for the racial injustice and prejudice that fostered its economic prosperity throughout its history and seeks to build an equitable future
  • Recognizes immigrants as a source of civic, cultural, and economic strength

How

Here's a look at the types of policy projects or campaigns you could undertake in the Human Rights Issue Area: 

  • Fight incoming privatization of prisons or water in your city
  • Challenge the growth of new private prison contracts in your state
  • Launch or join a divestment campaign at the city or campus level to against organizations funding private prisons or the Mexico wall
  • Ending the practice of money bail in your city or state
  • Enact state level policy to protect against private prison contracts in the future

Active Campaigns

A look at some active campaigns fighting for the public good in Human Rights across the nation: 

  • Students at Columbia University successful pressured the administration to divest from private prison investments.
  • After facing public pressure from organizers, the Seattle City Council voted to divest $3 million from Wells Fargo over the bank's funding of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  
  • The #CloseRikers campaign, led by JustLeadershipUSA, boldly called New York City to close one of the most notorious prisons in the country. This week they achieved a major victory with Mayor Bill De Blasio latching on to their momentum and announcing the closure of the Rikers facility. Beyond the closure of a single facility, #CloseRIkers is a call for New Yorkers to rethink the city's approach to justice and criminality. 

Roosevelt Examples

Some examples of Roosevelt student written policies advocating for the public good in the Human Rights Issue Area: 

  1. Preventing Bankruptcy from Limiting Water Access: Maggie DeHart and Kathryn Wissman 2016: Roosevelt @ Michigan State University
  2. Drug-Related Restrictions in Public Housing: Decreasing Recidivism by Reuniting Families: Michael Vitelli 2016: Roosevelt @ City College of New York
  3. Social Reparations: Re-Allocating Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Profits Toward Sexual Assault Care: Emma Copeland & Taylor Pigram 2015: Roosevelt @ George Mason
  4. Raising the Bars: Holding Arizona Private Prisons Accountable: Julius Goldberg Lewis, Andrea Sosa, & Kitty Lan, 2015
  5. Equal Internet Access for Equal Opportunity: Matthew Lazo and Moustafa Elshaabiny 2015: Roosevelt @ City College of New York
  6. Labor Unchained: Voluntary Labor Rights and Equitable Wages for Incarcerated Americans: Alexius Marcano 2015: Roosevelt @ Emory
  7. Baltimore’s LGBTQ Homeless Youth: Housing Guaranteed: Maxen Jack-Monroe 2015: Roosevelt @ Goucher

Active Organizations

Resources

Read more about why cash-bail is especially problematic for low-income people of color, and how to get involved working to end it.

Learn about why the DOJ announced in 2016 that it was going to phase out its contracts with private prisons (a decision that has since been reversed).

The troubled past of CCA doesn't erase with its name change to CoreCivic; the company is just one example of why private prisons are bad for our country.