The Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People & Families Movement (FICPFM) is a network of over 50 civil and human rights organizations that are led by people who are living with criminal records, and their family members. We are national movement of directly impacted people speaking in our own voices about the need to end mass incarceration, America’s current racial and economic caste system. To that extent, we are committed to transforming society by transforming the criminal justice system. Working in and with community, our work not only ensures alternatives to incarceration and criminalization, but we address head on the collateral consequences of living with a conviction by restoring civil rights to those who have had them taken away. Above all, we are inexorably bound to the idea that a society without prisons not only can exist, but must.
Today, the US leads the world in the numbers of people it incarcerates, but it also leads the world in number of people—tens of millions—who have been released from prison—sometimes decades before—but are still suffering the collateral consequences. The people who encompass the Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People & and Families Movement have borne those consequences either because they were convicted or because they were in close relationship with someone who was. And although all of us have suffered the indignity of the punishment system for a choice we we either made or did not make, there continues to be a brand that disrupts our ability to live freely and safely in the world post-conviction.
Our ability to secure housing, food and employment has been upended—including in cases where someone is simply in close relationship to a person who has a conviction. And for those who have been convicted, the right to vote in states across the nation has been wiped out, if not permanently then for extraordinary lengths of time—an issue that that should be of greatest concern to all who lay claim to the belief that the American experiment in democracy can be realized.
Society’s reliance on prisons and punishment does not make our communities safer. The warehousing of human beings, disproportionately people of color, is an unacceptable substitute for needed social programs. Prisons must not continue to be a substitute for addressing poverty, trauma, mental health or housing shortages.
We see ours as the critical work of building political power and healthy communities so that this social vulgarity can, once and for all, be done away with. Even still, we know that it is as true today as it was when uttered by Fredrick Douglass more than 150 years ago, “that power concedes nothing without a demand, it never has and it never will.” Our platform is drafted to hold the weight of a movement, but it cannot stand by itself. To ensure its power, we seek to work in coordination with our communities and with our allies from all stations in life to realize a world in which justice, freedom and dignity define all of our lives.