Our Mission & Work

#cut50 is a national bipartisan initiative to safely and smartly reduce our incarcerated population by 50 percent over the next 10 years.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform a criminal justice system that has grown too big, too unfair, and too brutal. We catalyze new and unlikely partnerships, elevate proven solutions, amplify the voices of those directly impacted by the system, and popularize a new narrative of justice, redemption, and transformation.

MISSION: 

#cut50,­ an initiative of The Dream Corps­, is a national bipartisan effort to smartly and safely reduce America’s incarcerated population by 50 percent over the next 10 years.

The Dream Corps helps cutting-edge initiatives grow big enough to impact millions of lives. We support economic, environmental and criminal justice innovators – all under one roof. Our shared platform helps leaders create synergies, leapfrog obstacles and maximize impact. View our 2015 Year-End Report here.

 

Van Jones, Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Attorney General Eric Holder at the Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform in Washington, D.C.

OUR VISION:

We envision a criminal justice system that recognizes the humanity of the 2.2 million people currently behind bars in America and moves toward compassion and treatment rather than punishment and incarceration. With empathy, understanding, and love we can build the political will needed to rectify the damage caused by the incarceration industry on individuals, families and our society.

Our justice system is a human rights catastrophe and one of the biggest moral crises of our time. — Van Jones

HOW WE WILL #cut50:

#cut50 is popularizing the idea that we can smartly and safely reduce the number of people in our prisons and jails by 50 percent.

#cut50 uniquely connects “ground up” ability to educate and mobilize people with “grasstops” media and influencer reach, filling the gap between the expertise and work of leading criminal justice reform organizations and top-tier media and influencers. 

By humanizing the narrative and pursuing transformative legislation, #cut50 is uniting  the political machine of Washington DC, the financial reach of Wall Street, the innovation of Silicon Valley, and the cultural dominance of Hollywood to roll back the incarceration industry.

 

WHY #cut50?

More than two million people are behind bars in the United States, which is close to 1 out of every 100 Americans.  At a time when highways are crumbling and schoolchildren go without books, America spends $80 billion every year on the incarceration industry – an expense that has a devastating impact on individuals, communities, and society as a whole.

Reliance on overly long sentences and tough on crime policies is both morally indefensible and economically unjustifiable. For more than three decades, our elected leaders advocated for longer prison sentences and for increasingly minor offenses.

The media and popular culture created a narrative to support that. It drove fear into the heart of every mother, father and elected official in America. “Armed Superpredators,” “Willie Horton,” it cried.

As a result, we sent too many people to prison, for too long, with a disproportionate and highly destructive impact on poor communities and communities of color.

We now have: 

  • More than 70 million people living with some type of criminal record.
  • 23 million bear the label "convicted felon" 
  • 5 million children have at least one incarcerated parent
  • 2.2 million people in prisons and jails
  • $80 billion per year spent on prisons

BUT A new narrative is now taking shape: one of bipartisan consensus and hope.

There has never been a better time to mainstream the idea that we can safely close prisons and pursue more effective alternatives. 

WHY NOW:

There is a growing bipartisan consensus that we must work together to untangle the webs of our broken criminal justice system.

In Red and Blue states across the country, leading governors like John Kasich (R-Ohio), Nathan Deal (R-Georgia), Rick Perry (R-Texas) and Jerry Brown (D-California) demonstrated that a fresh approach to criminal justice can save money and make communities safer.

This has freed up resources for education, job training, and other investments proven to have a positive impact on public safety and economic opportunity. These bold leaders are a model for their peers around the country and in the Federal government.

Federal legislation has emerged in Congress and the Obama Administration has shown a deep commitment to to restoring fairness and balance to our justice system.  

We must seize this moment to work across party lines and safely close prison doors while opening new doors to opportunity for millions of men and women across the country.