Email your Rep -- Support Breathe Inspired Legislation
For the last two years, we’ve shifted the way Black people and the world think about the police. We’ve worked to move people’s thinking toward the reality that we keep each other safe better than any force can. We’ve interrogated how our resources are spent, pushed to center health in safety, and questioned the need for policing in our communities, working to imagine a better world for ourselves and our communities. The BREATHE Act made its debut two years ago as an all-encompassing bill designed to make all that we imagine plain—divest from the systems that harm us and invest in our health, safety, and healing. Since then, BREATHE has continued just as we hoped, inspiring and guiding organizers in their fights at the local and state levels, advancing as multiple pieces of legislation on the federal level, and establishing our vision for public safety in legislation and budget processes at all levels of government.
Now more than ever, Black people understand that police do not keep us safe. The mass shootings of 19 elementary school children in Uvalde and 10 older members of the Black community in Buffalo exposed the clear failure of police to keep our communities safe. Uvalde showed the world that police have no obligation to protect our lives, and that their interests are aligned with protecting themselves. Cops only solve about half of murders in the U.S., the lowest rate ever recorded, and that rate drops even lower when the person murdered is Black. Protecting communities under threat and saving lives, especially Black lives, is not their priority.
This is why we need BREATHE, which is powering a new vision for public safety. Unveiled in the wake of the uprisings after the murder of George Floyd, The BREATHE Act offered an alternative to our failing system for public safety, meeting the demand for investments in our communities and providing bold leaders with a legislative framework to make it a reality. In its design, the BREATHE Act sought to:
Divest federal resources from policing and incarceration and end federal criminal-legal system harms, including the 1994 Crime Bill and reparations for the War on Drugs
Invest in new approaches to community safety utilizing funding incentives
Allocate new money to build healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities for all people
Hold officials accountable and enhance the self-determination of Black communities
BREATHE has inspired legislation on the local, state, and federal levels. Within the first two years of its debut, the BREATHE Act inspired three major pieces of federal legislation. From repealing policies that are remnants of the drug war, to establishing a transparent and structured process of clemency, to investing in critical grants to ensure we center health and well-being in public safety, this introduced federal legislation makes our vision real and carries it forward.
The People’s Response Act: Introduced by Representative Cori Bush, the bill calls for investments in Black communities to begin to account for the harms of the criminal legal system while shifting the federal government’s approach to public safety by creating the first federal agency for community safety in the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee those investments.
The Drug Policy Reform Bill: This bill seeks to decriminalize substance abuse and move authority over drug classifications at the federal level out of the hands of the Attorney General into the hands of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Fix Clemency Act: This proposal would move us closer to ending the carceral state through decarceration, taking the clemency process out of the Department of Justice and creating a U.S. Clemency Board (Board) with significant transparency requirements that would be made up of individuals appointed by the President with relevant expertise, including formerly incarcerated people who have been impacted by the criminal legal system.
Two years after its release, the BREATHE Act is breathing life into legislation, budget policy, and organizing across the country. We can’t wait to see what our progress toward the vision looks like in the next two.
But we can’t do it alone! Email your federal elected officials to demand they support all BREATHE-inspired policies. Use the easy action link below to have us send the email on your behalf!
Every action helps in making the BREATHE Act reality. Public safety built around community, care, and healing is possible. It’s time to build it together.