What is the mission of Vote Smart Justice?

Our justice system is broken. Today, more than 2.2 million people are in American jails and prisons, nearly 4.7 million are on probation or parole, and approximately 70 million are living with a criminal record. On any given day there are close to half a million people incarcerated in jail –who have not even been convicted of a crime –too often losing their jobs, homes, and family relationships. We lock up more of our people than any other country in the world. This system is devastating, expensive, and it has failed to make us safer.

Instead of strengthening and expanding mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, and tackling failing systems like education, housing, and unemployment, for too long, politicians have pushed “tough-on-crime” policies that have led us to a mass incarceration crisis. It’s time for us to change that.

Vote Smart Justice, a non-partisan initiative led by the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice aims to:

  • Elevate the issue of ending mass incarceration as a priority in federal, state, and local elections.
  • Educate voters on where candidates for office stand on key criminal justice issues.
  • Inspire voters to fight for people, not prisons, on Election Day.

What is the Vote Smart Justice website?

VoteSmartJustice.org is an interactive tool for voters across the nation to learn where candidates for office in federal, state, and local elections stand on criminal justice reform and ending mass incarceration. Users simply enter their zip code to access information about where their candidates stand on criminal justice reform. And, by signing up to the ACLU’s email list, users can get involved in the movement to end mass incarceration.

When will the Vote Smart Justice website fully launch?

VoteSmartJustice.org will launch in July 2018.

Why should I care about ending mass incarceration?

Mass incarceration destroys the lives of millions of people in America today. For the past four decades, the United States has dramatically increased its reliance on the criminal justice system as a way to respond to drug addiction, mental illness, poverty, and failing schools. As a result, the United States today incarcerates more people, in both absolute numbers and per capita, than any other nation in the world. Millions of lives have been upended and families torn apart. With your help, we can change this unjust system once and for all, by electing candidates who will end this mass incarceration crisis.

How is the ACLU collecting information on each candidate?

We collected data from legislative voting records, public statements, candidate websites, media archives, and social media statements to assess candidates’ positions across a variety of criminal justice topics.

Does the ACLU endorse candidates?

No. As a strictly nonpartisan organization, the ACLU does not endorse any candidates. Our goal is to educate voters about where candidates stand on critical issues related to civil liberties and civil rights, including criminal justice reform.

How can I contribute to the Vote Smart Justice effort?

Become a Smart Justice voter! Read up on where your candidates stand on criminal justice reform, make sure your voter registration is up to date, tell your friends about VoteSmartJustice.org and tell them to register to vote, and sign up to the ACLU’s email list to learn more about how to hold candidates accountable. You can also attend or organize candidate forums and ask candidates to adopt smart justice priorities.

What is the Vote Smart Justice privacy policy?

The ACLU takes many steps to protect your privacy when you visit any ACLU website, including VoteSmartJustice.org. To advance our advocacy and outreach programs, and to provide you with a better experience while you are on the site, we do allow some tracking to take place. How and when we do so is explained in detail in our privacy statement.

Be a Smart Justice Voter by voting your values to reform criminal justice.