Injustice in the Criminal "Justice" System Action Toolkit

We are now entering our third week of our month long campaign, No Room for Racism. The response continues to be amazing. More groups and individuals are taking action to make their voice heard. If you haven’t signed up please click here to take action and make racial justice a priority during this election season.

Race, racism and racial justice aren’t being adequately covered during this election season. Join us! Take action for racial justice with this week’s toolkit focused on Injustice in the Criminal “Justice” System!

To see pictures and messages of last week’s actions related to immigration, please check out our Facebook page, Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and our Twitter pages #noroomforracism @showup4rj.

Issue at Hand: Injustice in the Criminal “Justice” System

Disproportionate numbers of People of Color and low income White people are snared in the net of the criminal “justice” system, as a result of:

  • unjust policing practices,
  • a media which skews towards police versions of encounters between police and community members,
  • laws and policies that target communities of color,
  • a prison industry that is driven by profit.

According to the Sentencing Project:

  • More than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities.
  • For Black males in their thirties, 1 in every 10 is in prison or jail on any given day.
  • Two-thirds of all persons in prison for drug offenses are People of Color.
  • In 2010, Black women were incarcerated at nearly 3 times the rate of White women. Hispanic women were incarcerated at 1.6 times the rate of White women.

Despite those sobering realities, neither the Republican nor the Democratic Parties have made justice in the criminal law system a part of their platform.

What can we do

Through our actions throughout this week, we can demonstrate our belief that the criminal law system is fundamental to creating a more just society.

We can speak out against racial profiling and mass incarceration, and share a vision of human rights for all, including incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.

2 MINUTE ACTION: In just 1 click you can spread the word

Use social media to get the word out: Post this picture and make it your profile picture on Facebook.


Use our one click tweet or copy and paste one of these statements to show that you stand for justice in the criminal “justice” system:

  • I want a president who will stop torture in our own backyard. End prolonged solitary confinement now! #noroomforracism #election2012
  • I want a president who will work to end racial profiling. No more Stop and Frisk. No more SB1070. #noroomforracism #election2012
  • I want a president will work to end the mass incarceration of communities of color. #noroomforracism #election2012

If you are a person of faith or conscience, sign the National Religious Campaign to End Torture statement to end solitary confinement.

5 MINUTE ACTION: Write a Message and Take a Picture

Take a protest picture and post it on the Showing Up for Racial Justice website and Facebook page. Think of a message that challenges racial injustice in the criminal law system, and write it down on a big piece of paper or a poster board. Have a friend take a picture and send it in to join the growing number of people speaking out for racial justice during this election season. Here are some sample messages:

  • All humans have humans rights! Stop Solitary Confinement! #noroomforracism. Download the PDF.
  • Families before Profit! No more prisons for profit! #noroomforracism. Download the PDF.
  • Stand against Racial Profiling! No more “Stop and Frisk”. No more SB1070 #noroomforracism. Download the PDF.

30 MINUTE ACTION: Watch and Share

Take a few minutes to watch the video at the below link and share it with your friends and family. Find out how the people in your community are challenging discriminatory policing practices and get involved.

1 HOUR ACTION: Do some writing

Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper. Letters to the editor can be great ways to get your voice out there. So pick a point to make about racial injustice in the criminal law system and put it on paper. Send it in to your local newspaper and post it on the SURJ website and Facebook page.

Click here for some tips for writing letters.

And here are some talking points and statistics to use and jumping off points:

  1. Discriminatory policing practices like “Stop and Frisk” and SB 1070 racially profile communities of color. Click here for more info.
  2. According the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, during the first six months of 2012 one person every 36 hours, 120 black people, were killed by the police. Click here for more info.
  3. Solitary Confinement is cruel and unusual punishment and should be eliminated. Click here for more info.
  4. Private Prison companies profit off the incarceration and separation of immigrant families and People of Color.
  5. Prisoner’s rights are human rights. That is why I support the five demands of the California Prisoners’ Hunger Strike of 2011. Read their demands.
  6. Mass Incarceration of communities of color is creating a new “Jim Crow”. Click here for more info.

1 HOUR + ACTION: Take a day off your usual grind and spend the day provoking change!

Invite some friends over to have a discussion over tea/coffee/wine/beer about race in the criminal “justice” system.

Take a minute to read this PDF together.

It is a vision of racial justice created by the Pelican Bay Prisoner representatives, many of whom represented the 2011 hunger strike. They are also known as “The Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement.”

Have a discussion about what this means to you as a White person doing racial justice organizing. What does it mean to you and your friends to see this kind of peaceful protest by prisoners who are supposed to be, according to the California Department of Corrections, some of "the worst of the worst?”

Make a plan with your friends to get involved in an ongoing way. Become a “Pen Pal” with an incarcerated person. Find out how your community is responding to inhumane conditions that prisoners are enduring.