1. Background
  2. Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice


We call for a transformation of our current system of criminal justice, which today is used principally as an instrument of retribution — a policy contrary to our Quaker beliefs.

Gavel on desk

Joe Gratz / Flickr

We need crime prevention that engages the complex and pervasive causes of crime, which often are rooted in social and economic injustice. We support a system that treats juveniles as children, not as adults, and that is not biased by race, immigration status or economic class.

Policing

Police officers are supposed to serve and protect their communities. But military equipment makes it too easy to think of their communities as enemies. In a criminal justice system where young black men are too often presumed guilty, that's one more step towards tragedy.

We acknowledge the role of well-trained law enforcement to protect community safety. However, our legitimate needs for safety and security can never excuse excessive or lethal force stemming from racial profiling or implicit bias.

Mass Incarceration

Our communities and families will be strengthened by a system that embraces restorative justice and seeks to return rehabilitated offenders to society with their full rights and obligations. Incarceration of violent and destructive individuals is sometimes necessary for safety, but community-based alternatives to incarceration are often better responses to nonviolent crimes. A well-functioning system will include equitable and prompt adjudication; education, training, and treatment for those convicted and restitution to the victims of crime.

Many crimes are prompted by conditions that can best be addressed outside the criminal justice system. Violent acts that stem from using, selling or transferring drugs or obtaining money to use them should be prosecuted — however, substance abuse itself is fundamentally a health issue requiring prevention, education, treatment and rehabilitation. Mental health problems deserve treatment rather than criminalization.

Human Rights and Prisons for Profit

Government must ensure that detention facilities provide humane conditions and basic rights. We stand against the inappropriate use of solitary confinement. Profit-making has no legitimate place in the criminal justice system; we oppose privatized detention facilities.

Death Penalty

There are many reasons to end the use of the death penalty. Executing criminals does not effectively address the roots of violence in our society. It has not been shown to effectively deter the sorts of crimes for which it is applied. It does not restore lives destroyed by acts of violence.

Background Moral and Practical Reasons to End the Death Penalty 

There are many reasons to end the use of the death penalty. Executing criminals does not effectively address the roots of violence in our society. It has not been shown to effectively deter the sorts of crimes for which it is applied. It does not restore lives destroyed by acts of violence.