Strategic Priorities

Four strategic priorities power our fight for human dignity

End the criminalization of people of color, immigrants, and people experiencing poverty

Throughout its history, the United States has criminalized marginalized people. Our criminal legal system was set up to enforce slavery and, later, to control formerly enslaved people. That overcriminalization continues today.

More than 80 percent of all arrests are for low-level, nonviolent offenses and conduct related to poverty. People who can’t pay court fines and fees for minor violations face license suspensions and jail time for their inability to pay. And thousands of people immigrating to the country are criminalized for crossing the border. Vera is working to end overcriminalization that entraps people in the criminal legal and immigration systems.

Drastically reduce the use of jails, prisons, and detention centers

The United States is the most incarcerated nation in the world. Nearly two million people are behind bars and 500,000 more are in immigration detention. Many are incarcerated because they can’t afford bail, and being behind bars for even a few days means that people can lose their jobs, housing, children, and access to education. Many people are serving excessively punitive sentences based on misguided “tough-on-crime” policies. Vera works to end money bail; support a new generation of prosecutors to eliminate racial disparities in charging and sentencing; stop the unnecessary use of jails; and end cruelly long sentencing.

Center dignity and minimize the harms to people impacted by the criminal legal and immigration systems

The criminal legal and immigration systems inflict devastating long-term personal, social, and economic harms on communities across America. Lack of access to education in prison, excessive fines and fees, widespread use of money bail, and other punitive practices traumatize people who are incarcerated, and leave them ill-equipped to succeed when they return home. Vera is committed to drastically decreasing incarceration while safeguarding the dignity of the nearly two million people currently behind bars.

Support safe and thriving communities with comprehensive strategies that ensure accountability and are rooted in public health

Our communities need better health care, schools, housing, drug treatment programs, and other social services. Our goal is to shrink and transform the criminal legal and immigration systems. We implement approaches rooted in community perspectives, elevating the voices and needs of those who have been directly impacted by the criminal legal system. Vera invests in strategies and community partnership to ensure all communities are safer and can thrive.