NELP believes that a just and inclusive economy must deliver economic justice and repair for people with records and their families and communities, especially in Black, indigenous, and Latinx communities that have suffered generational disinvestment and wealth extraction, structural violence, and systemic oppression. Racist punishment systems have been prioritized and funded by policymakers for too long over systemic solutions that create community wellness. In this context, NELP’s contributions are to lift up systemic solutions toward economic stability and inclusion, as well as to provide resources to understand criminalization as a driver of occupational and job segregation.
Broader than the criminal legal system, the criminal punishment system includes punishments beyond a person’s direct sentence. These punishments target and disadvantage Black, indigenous, and Latinx people and people who are cash-poor. The ongoing punishments in this system can lock workers into cycles of bad work and reincarceration. This policy agenda for reentry and workers’ rights advocates briefly outlines how the criminal punishment system degrades working conditions for all workers – preserving a permanent class of underpaid and underemployed workers – as well as previews pro-worker policy recommendations to address the criminalization of workers. These proposals include: