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Keeping People Home- November State Updates

December 07, 2023

While most state legislatures were not in session in November, the Justice team focused our efforts at the federal level to preserve the CARES Act.

The CARES Act ruling from the Department of Justice in 2021, encouraged by Dream.Org and other criminal justice and civil rights organizations, gave wardens the discretion to allow people who had been released from prison to home confinement during COVID-19, to continue to serving their sentences in home confinement after COVID-19. This ruling resulted in a significant increase in public safety across the country with an unheard-of-recidivism rate of 0.19% (compared to the recidivism rate of 43% for general Bureau of Prisons releases), and has been serving as a safety valve for overcrowded and understaffed federal prisoners. Simultaneously, it resulted in substantially lower costs to taxpayers.

In November, a resolution (S.J. Res. 47) was introduced in the U.S. Senate that would end this successful program and put people back behind bars. Dream.Org quickly mobilized to educate stakeholders about the harm of separating families while creating opposition to the resolution. Over 5,000 of our members lifted up their voices urging President Biden to oppose the resolution, and we’ve worked closely with a bipartisan coalition every day to make sure members of Congress from both parties heard from us. On November 30, the President’s Office of Management and Budget issued a Statement of Administration Policy declaring that President Biden would veto S.J. Res. 47 if it were to reach his desk. Given our existing coalition work, we are confident we can devote a potential veto override, though our goal continues to be an outright defeat of the Resolution. Ultimately, our mission is to advance bipartisan legislative and executive solutions to criminal justice reform and raise the voices of directly-impacted people on the state and federal level.

One of our key events to uplift the voices of directly-impacted people is through our annual Day of Empathy- the nation’s largest day of action for criminal justice reform. In 2023, Dream.Org Day of Empathy events took place in 13 states across the nation. Nearly 1,000 people attended these events where they met with lawmakers, learned about issues that impact their lives, and became engaged in advocacy efforts. In 2024, we are hosting events in 10 legislative priority states and half dozen additional states where we have strong Empathy Network communities (Iowa, New Jersey, Texas, New York, Nebraska, Oregon). Dates for state events are listed below. If you would like to be involved in Day of Empathy please contact Sean Wilson, Dream.Org’s Organizing Director. 

Here’s a summary of our state activities in November:


  • The Arizona team continues to engage stakeholders to prepare for the 2024 legislative session which will focus on two bills: Home Arrest, which will bring people home from incarceration up to 18 months early on a Home Arrest with Electronic Monitoring program, and an Independent Prison Oversight bill. In November, we met with potential sponsors for both bills and planned follow-up with the Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry to discuss their review of the modified Home Arrest bill and determine appropriation amounts. 
  • Day of Empathy - February 6, 2024. 


  • Our team continued to monitor the rollout of the policy passed in 2023 to suspend payment of Fines and Fees for 120 days after release from incarceration. The team is busy preparing for the 2024 Day of Empathy and our Empathy Leader Gem Jones’ campaign for the 2025 season, which will focus on Adult Parole.
  •  Day of Empathy - February 26, 2024. 


  • Our work in Kentucky continued to focus on the strategy for a response to the Safer Kentucky Act. This new omnibus is a list of 18 regressive policies, including new "Three Strikes" laws and drug-induced homicide laws for fentanyl. The Kentucky team also continues to build momentum for Clean Slate. Our team also began working with the Kentucky Judicial Commission on Mental Health on workgroups for pretrial service, reentry, juvenile justice, and treatment services. 
  • Day of Empathy - March 5, 2024. 


  • In Mississippi, we are developing a strategy to tackle the issue of expungement in the next legislative session. 
  • Day of Empathy - March 5, 2024. 


  • In Missouri, our Empathy Leader ML Smith is hard at work preparing for the 2024 legislative session and is currently planning a series of organizing events that will help propel momentum into the 2024 legislative session. In 2024, the Missouri team will be working on Confidential Informant reform. 
  • Day of Empathy - March 6, 2024. 


  • The Pennsylvania Dignity Bill, HB 900, is scheduled for a committee hearing on December 12 and is expected to pass out of committee, pass overall, and to be signed by the governor. We are excited about the promise to extend dignity to incarcerated women in Pennsylvania. Day of Empathy - TBD.  

South Carolina:

  • Introducing South Carolina as one of our priority states for 2024. The focus in South Carolina will be  an initiative to Bridge South Carolina Communities with Resiliency. Day of Empathy - March 20, 2024. 


  • We welcome Tennessee as one of our new priority states for 2024. The legislative focus in Tennessee will be on Victims Compensation for Juvenile Offenders. 
  • Day of Empathy - March 13, 2024


  • Our Empathy Leader Eugene Youngblood continues to focus on retroactivity for the 2023 Juvenile Points legislation that we passed last year, as well as gaining parole review for those given long sentences as Emerging Adults (18-25 years old). Both Eugene and Empathy Leader Alex Mayo have been engaging a number of other organizations to form a strong coalition supporting both bills. Day of Empathy planning is in full swing, with lobby meetings planned with legislators in the morning followed by a rally on the Capitol steps. 
  • Day of Empathy - January 24, 2024


  • In addition to working on expungement and supervision issues in the current legislative session, our team in Wisconsin will be a concerted organizing campaign in harm reduction space, taking the lessons of our “Public Health is Public Safety” campaign in Kentucky. Day of Empathy - March 7, 2024. 

The Dream.Org Justice team and our incredible Empathy Leaders continue to fight to positively transform the criminal justice system in our country. None of this work would be possible without your partnership. We look forward to sharing additional updates with you in 2024!

The future starts with a dream.
The future starts with us.
Black woman standing in front of protestors.