Washington, D.C., February 23, 2016 — There is a rare and growing consensus across the political spectrum that, with the highest incarceration rate in the world, the United States’ criminal justice system is in need of reform. However, one population has been largely absent from the discussion: lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
A major report released today offers the most comprehensive analysis to date of how LGBT people, and particularly LGBT people of color, face higher rates of incarceration and unfair treatment and abuse in the criminal justice system. Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBT People documents how pervasive stigma and discrimination, biased enforcement of laws, and discriminatory policing strategies mean that LGBT people are disproportionately likely to interact with law enforcement and to have their lives criminalized. LGBT people are also treated unfairly once they enter the system; the report shows how they are disproportionately incarcerated and face abuse while incarcerated. Finally, the report sheds light on the fact that LGBT people face unique and considerable challenges in the struggle to rebuild their lives after experiences with law enforcement—and particularly after time spent in a correctional facility.
To illustrate the real impact of these failures in the criminal justice system, the report highlights personal stories of LGBT people impacted by the criminal justice system and spotlights innovative programs, initiatives, and organizations from around the country. Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBT People was co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and the Center for American Progress (CAP), in partnership with Forward Together, JustLeadershipUSA, and Advancement Project. It is available online at www.lgbtmap.org/criminal-justice.
“It used to be a crime to be LGBT in the United States, and while police are no longer raiding gay bars, LGBT people, especially LGBT people of color, are still disproportionately pushed into the criminal justice system. They are treated unfairly within the system and in correctional settings, and face extraordinary challenges in rebuilding their lives,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director of MAP.
The report synthesizes the latest research and analysis to make the case that LGBT people, especially LGBT people of color and low-income LGBT people, pay an extraordinarily high price for the failures of the U.S. criminal justice system:
The report paints a harrowing picture of the three ways in which the broken system fails LGBT people:
ENTERING THE SYSTEM: INCREASED CRIMINALIZATION OF LGBT PEOPLE
Three factors increase the chances that an LGBT person will be stopped or arrested by police and pushed into the system:
IN THE SYSTEM: LGBT PEOPLE ARE MORE FREQUENTLY INCARCERATED AND TREATED HARSHLY
Within the criminal justice system, LGBT people face two main challenges:
LIFE AFTER CONVICTION: LGBT PEOPLE FACE ADDED CHALLENGES TO REBUILDING LIVES
There are two primary post-conviction challenges for LGBT people:
“As the nation continues to debate how to fix the criminal justice system, it is critical to explore solutions that will improve conditions and ensure fairness for everyone,” said Laura E. Durso, Senior Director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress. “That includes America’s nine million LGBT people who are at increased risk of having their lives and life chances destroyed by the current criminal justice system.”
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MAP's mission is to provide independent and rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all. MAP works to ensure that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life.
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” www.americanprogress.org
Advancement Project is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. www.advancementproject.org
Forward Together is a multi-racial, multi-issue organization that is changing how we think, feel, act, and make policy about families. Whether chosen or biological, we work to ensure that all families have the power and resources they need to thrive. We work at the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality— and find ways to shift our culture and policy in the areas of reproductive justice, economic justice, and ending mass incarceration. www.forwardtogether.org
JustLeadershipUSA is dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by 2030, while reducing crime. JLUSA empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. www.justleadershipusa.org