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Dream Corps’ ask for the new administration

Dear President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris:

Congratulations on your hard-won victory. On behalf of the millions of people in the communities we serve, we appreciate your commitment to an equitable recovery rooted in racial justice, and write to you to ask that you enact the following reforms in the first 100 days of your administration.

COVID-19 has drastically altered the lives, immediate needs, and futures of the American people, especially those in communities of color disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and recession. In order for our nation’s recovery to be truly comprehensive and equitable to all, we urge you to appoint and hire leaders to your transition team and administration who represent America’s hard-hit communities and who will invest in urgent recovery that advances racial equity—including, people who have been formerly incarcerated, Black, Brown, and Indigenous leaders, and people on the front lines of the interconnected crises we face.

With your leadership, we are confident that our country can rebuild better than before—to recover and create new pathways to prosperity for people who have been excluded from opportunity and recovery resources, and to lift up those who have lost jobs, businesses, homes, and loved ones as a result of COVID-19. To do so, we ask that you prioritize the following reforms to expand economic opportunity, protect public health, promote a rehabilitative criminal justice system, protect the environment, increase access to transportation, and inspire leadership at the state and local levels.

 

Invest In Communities and Rebuild the Economy

  1. Leverage federal contracting dollars toward projects that improve racial and economic justice and reduce pollution. Provide bonus points for grant and contract proposals meeting equity and pollution-reduction criteria.
  2. Save families and small businesses money and create jobs by increasing efficiency in making homes, buildings, and appliances.
  3. Increase access to capital through a revolving fund “green bank” to provide low or zero-interest loans for local projects that reduce pollution, improve mobility options, or strengthen energy democracy.
  4. Provide grants for state, local, and tribal communities to invest in high speed broadband infrastructure and access. Create a clear pathway for municipal broadband network development.
  5. Reinvigorate the Federal Interagency Reentry Task Force to ensure that the full weight of the federal government and its departments are protecting public safety and supporting people released from incarceration.

 

Protect Public Health and Deploy Pollution-Free Energy and Transportation

  1. Clean up passenger transportation and freight through stronger Clean Air Act rules that help people reach essential jobs and access goods more safely.
  2. Accelerate transportation electrification by leveraging federal purchasing power and supporting state and local leaders to decrease emissions and prioritize deployment in communities overburdened by pollution.
  3. Launch a new Clean Power Plan that improves efficiency and cuts emissions, especially in communities overburdened by pollution.
  4. Get back to protecting historically marginalized communities from industrial pollution by enforcing environmental laws.
  5. Build back trust, community participation and protection from pollution through the restoration of clean water guidelines, environmental review processes, and methane rules for oil and gas.
  6. Stop the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable populations, especially in federal jails and prisons by:

    1. Ensuring that all incarcerated people, staff, and contractors have access to necessary PPE to prevent transmission and infection.
    2. Requiring frequent testing and medical checkups of correctional staff and incarcerated people in order to mitigate additional outbreaks and protect public health.
    3. Increasing the utilization of compassionate release, especially for immunocompromised and elderly incarcerated people, during and after the coronavirus crisis.

 

Ensure Federal Prisons Are Rehabilitative

  1. Fix the Bureau of Prisons by appointing competent leadership to handle the immense challenges of dealing with the spread of COVID-19, persistent staffing and safety issues, and discrimination against incarcerated people of color. Ensure that labor performed by incarcerated people at the federal level isn’t compulsory, results in a fair wage, and has necessary safety protections.
  2. Commit to fully funding and implementing the First Step Act, and immediately create a plan to restart prison programming, which has been paused and has jeopardized the accrual of earned time credits under the FSA. Ensure that the BOP and DOJ stay on track with any reporting requirements related to the FSA – especially focused on racial impact assessment.
  3. Analyze the existing implementation of the PATTERN risk assessment tool and ensure any adjustments prevent racial disparities in the assignment of risk categories or in the matching of services and programs required to lower one’s risk category, and incorporate dynamic factors into assessments.

 

Restore the Integrity of Federal Clemency and Pardons

  1. Depoliticize the pardon and clemency process by removing the Office of the Pardon Attorney from underneath the DOJ and moving it into an independent agency with non-political oversight.
 

Take Immediate Action to Curb Police Violence and Ensure Accountability

  1. Leverage the full weight of the White House both through executive order and by backing bipartisan federal legislation to reform qualified immunity for officers who violate citizens’ constitutional rights, ban chokeholds, end federal distribution of military weapons to state and local law enforcement agencies under the Section 1033 program, and create a national police oversight commission to explore additional reforms.
 

Close the Digital Divide

  1. Modernize the funding mechanism for the federal Universal Service Fund to ensure continued robust funding that provides connectivity to schools and low-income and under-served communities.
  2. Restore and expand the Lifeline program to include high speed broadband access as well as phone service. Increase subsidies for broadband service.

 

Despite the issues that divide us, the large majority of Americans agree on this—it is time to end the partisan tug-of-war holding our country back and come together to create solutions that carry us forward. Your administration was elected with a historic mandate to end this era of pain and suffering and lead our country into an era of healing and hope for all. We urge you to implement these necessary policies and eagerly await the opportunity to assist in any way possible.

Sincerely,
Nisha Anand, Dream Corps CEO
Michelle Romero, Dream Corps Green For All National Director
Kasheef Wyzard, Dream Corps TECH National Programming Initiatives Director
Michelle Ferguson, Dream Corps TECH National Community Relations Director
Alex Gudich, Dream Corps #cut50 Interim Director

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