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8 Things You Should Read about Criminal Justice Reform

As prison populations rise unabated, finding ways to reform the policies that have led to the dramatic overexpansion of the prison system has become a point of focus for politicians and the public. Conservatives are abandoning the tough-on-crime rhetoric that once defined right-wing politics, facilitating the emergence of a bipartisan coalition of policymakers eager to change the justice system in the process. However, Congress has failed to meet the call for bipartisan criminal justice reform in the past, leaving popular proposals like the Smarter Sentencing Act on the cutting room floor due to an inability to get both parties on the same page. With public calls for reform ratcheting up pressure on Washington, can bipartisan ambitions actually become political reality?

If you want to know more about the evolution of criminal justice reform on the national stage, here are eight things worth reading:

The Moment for Criminal Justice Reform?

By Russell Berman, The Atlantic

While criminal justice reform remains a consistent presence on the Congressional agenda, President Obama has simultaneously launched a campaign to curb prison-system abuses through executive action. But with political eyes already moving towards the 2016 presidential election, can substantive reforms take hold before the administration's time runs out?

Bipartisan Push for Criminal Justice Reform Sets Its Agenda

By Alex Altman, TIME.com

Bipartisan efforts to enact criminal justice reform legislation have drawn attention for the quantity and diversity of interests represented, but the creation of universally appealing policies has come at the cost of depth.

Inspired by Injustice, Politicians Speak Boldly on Race

By Perry Bacon Jr., NBCNews

In the midst of the “Black Lives Matter” movement and renewed attention on racial injustice, politicians are abandoning impartial rhetoric in favor of strong stances that address the negative impacts of racial bias and discrimination.

Last Man Standing

By Mark Obbie, Slate

The momentum behind bipartisan criminal justice reform makes it seem unstoppable. Can one "tough on crime" conservative keep the reformers at bay?

Real-Life Stories of Race and Policing

By Jane Greenway Carr, Pacific Standard

Finding ways to address racial disparities in how police officers deal with citizens is an important task, but it cannot succeed without two things: historical context and a better understanding of real-world interactions between police officers and minorities.

The Freddie Grays of West Baltimore Who Can’t Vote

By Monica Potts, The Daily Beast

Reforms intended to help those released from prison often highlight things like securing gainful employment and the accessibility of housing as key factors in reducing recidivism. But ending felony disenfranchisement may be just as important when it comes to reintegrating the formerly incarcerated back into society.

Can Criminal Justice Reform Cross the Aisle?

By P.R. Lockhart, The Weekly Wonk

Criminal justice reform may have drawn support across party lines, but in order for progress to be sustainable, reform efforts must survive the 2016 election.

Prison Revolt

By Bill Keller, The New Yorker

When Patrick J. Nolan emerged from a stint in prison, he became one of the highest profile conservatives to speak out on the pitfalls of the U.S.’s incarceration complex. Now he’s leading a criminal justice reform movement that has placed a right-leaning, red-tinted lens on the cause that was once predominantly the focus of the Left.