Washington, D.C. — This week, the Trump administration’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) backpedaled a proposal that would have required federal job applicants to disclose whether they had previously participated in a diversion program. Diversion programs allow people accused of mostly low-level offenses to avoid criminal prosecution and the myriad of collateral consequences that accompany a conviction. The requirement by OPM would have made it harder for those who had minimal contact with the criminal justice system—but were not convicted of a crime—to find employment.
Brent J. Cohen, executive director of Generation Progress, issued the following statement:
“It comes as no surprise that the Trump administration’s moral compass had to be righted by advocates. This administration’s attempt to sneak through bad policy was stopped exclusively because of the alarm sounded by Generation Progress, partnering criminal justice reform and civil rights organizations, and the 3,400 public comments our collective network members submitted. We know this will not be an isolated incident, and we will remain vigilant in standing up for young people and fighting against discrimination in all forms.
It is difficult to take President Trump’s claims on criminal justice reform seriously when his administration tries to slip damaging proposals like this one past the public, and when he has appointed two attorneys general who continue to champion the failed policies of mass incarceration despite widespread public opposition and robust research demonstrating the harm it has caused.
This victory deserves to be celebrated. However, preventing the rollback of incremental criminal justice reforms is not sufficient. Overcriminalization and mass incarceration continue to hurt the communities that are most marginalized and most vulnerable. As advocates and concerned community members, we call on Congress to repeal the ban on Pell grants for incarcerated students, we call on state legislatures to restore voting rights for those previously convicted of felonies, and we call on local governments to invest in the health of their cities rather than the suppression of their community members.”
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