Amplify Values In These Emerging Issues
Center People in Justice Reform Messaging
We all deserve to live in communities where we feel safe. And true community safety includes feeling safe from violence by the state, which includes the police. Achieving this vision requires centering values that promote human dignity to prevent harm, ensure equal justice, and focus on restoration, not punishment.
Across the nation, however, local print and television news headlines are filled with reports of crime and violence. Without nuance or context, headlines describing crime trends add oxygen to narratives that threaten to stimy political momentum and public support for criminal justice reform. We’ve seen this before. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s latest investigative report on the roots of systemic racism in America, “Lights. Camera. Crime,” details the rise of “infotainment” television news that stoked racist stereotypes about BIPOC communities and clouded audiences’ perception of decreasing crime rates throughout the '90s.
To help you message the moment, we’ve updated our Criminal Justice Reform Phrase Guide. Our people-first language grids provide quick reference points for how to avoid dehumanizing labels that foster stigma and fear. Be sure to check out tip #2 for VPSA guidance to pivot away from dominant narratives and toward an affirmative story about how systemic reforms to our criminal legal system provide a roadmap toward true community safety.
- Criminal Justice Reform Phrase Guide (The Opportunity Agenda)
- Beyond Policing (The Opportunity Agenda)
- People First: Drop the Harmful Labels From Criminal Justice Reporting (fwd.us)
- Words Matter (The Fortune Society Reentry Education Project)
- Ten Lessons for Talking About Criminal Justice Issues (The Opportunity Agenda)
- The Language Project (The Marshall Project)
- LIGHTS. CAMERA. CRIME. How a Philly-born brand of TV news harmed Black America (A More Perfect Union by The Philadelphia Inquirer)
It’s Time to Confirm Judge Jackson
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote, as early as this week, to confirm the Hon. Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Jackson’s nomination as the first Black woman on our nation’s highest court is a historic step towards achieving full opportunity, where everyone has a fair chance to reach their full potential. Her life of public service — as a judge, public defender, and on the U.S. Sentencing Commission — brings invaluable expertise and perspective to help the Court live up to its foundational goal of equal justice under the law.
Despite widespread public support and impeccable credentials, hostile and disrespectful questioning by Republican senators of Judge Jackson surfaced how the standards of civility shift when a Black woman enters spaces historically occupied by white men. As exemplified by Sen. Cory Booker, counter with joy to uplift both her extraordinary qualifications and the power of her story, particularly how it connects to countless Black women who have aspired and trailblazed in their careers and communities despite systemic hurdles.
Visit our updated guidance for both sample VPSA message guidance and tips for how people can shift the conversation in the press, on social media, and at the dinner table.
- Black Women Leaders & Allies Week of Action (The Black Women’s Roundtable)
- Black Women are Supreme (NAACP)
- Supporting Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Historic Nomination (The Opportunity Agenda)
- Black Women Sign-On Letter in Support of the Historic Nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to Serve on the Supreme Court of the United States (#SheWillRise)