Criminal Justice & Human Rights in the United States

This important resource frames issues with the criminal system and of mass incarceration as human rights concerns. It lays out the international human rights laws and legal instruments that protect and ensure these rights and that U.S. advocates can draw on to enhance domestic work in organizing, advocacy, policy development, and movement buidling. The paper highlights the ways that advocates in the field of juvenile justice have used the human rights framework and international and regional mechanisms at the United Nations, with regional human rights bodies, and in U.S. legal and organizing strategies to advance the cause of justice. It ends by not only pointing to current domestic efforts to achieve government accountability, but ways that advocates can influence international efforts that can be broguht to bear on the escalating criminal injustice system in the U.S.

This resource was written by Deborah Labelle, on a consultative basis for the US Human Rights Network. The development and completion of the document was made possible because of the expert support and guidance of an advisory group. Members of the group provided substantive information on the topic, verbal and written feedback on various drafts of the document, and other key support for completing this resource. Advisory members included Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Benita Jain, Immigrant Defense Project, Manuel La Fontaine, All of Us or None, Sunita Patel, Center for Constitutional Rights, Rev. Vivian Nixon, College and Community Fellowship. Additional support for completing this document came from US Human Rights Network (USHRN) national education coordinator, Yolande Tomlinson, Ph.D.

Deobrah LaBelle
criminal justice, mass incarceration, juvenile justice, incarceration, human rights framing paper