The U.S. has one of the Highest Incarceration Rates in the World

This massive surge of incarceration began in the 1970s with the War on Drugs and has disproportionately impacted Blacks and Latinos.

Additionally, approximately 1 in 3 people in the U.S. – about 70 to 100 million people – have some kind of record, the majority of them for arrests, acquittals and non-violent misdemeanors like excessive speeding. But even after paying their debt to society, most people don’t get a second chance:

  • 94% of employers
  • 90% of landlords
  • 72% of colleges and universities

use background checks to screen out applicants with records. 

Live Free works to ensure that public officials serve as allies (rather than obstacles) in reforming policies and practices that drive the mass incarceration and criminalization of our communities. This includes pushing for public safety strategies such as community violence intervention which reduce violence without fueling more incarceration. Our Live Free County Scorecards are used by advocates and organizers to assess the quality of local policies and to help inform their advocacy targets.

At the state level, we support policies that reduce incarceration and recidivism, and protect the rights and opportunities of returning citizens.  Back in 2012, Live Free began investing in the grassroots organizing the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) which led the passage of the state’s 2018 constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians with felony convictions–the largest U.S. expansion of the vote in half a century. Live Free now partners with FRRC in community violence intervention efforts in the state.

Currently, Live Free partners with the Clean Slate Initiative to push states to expand eligibility for record clearance and to automatically clear arrest and conviction records once individuals become eligible. We believe that once a debt has been paid, people should be allowed to be fully free