Policy Advocacy

The Institute for Justice and Opportunity is committed to driving lasting structural and institutional change by engaging in advocacy and leading research. We target policies and practices that dehumanize and marginalize people with conviction histories.

Our policy reform efforts are built from the collective knowledge and active participation of grassroots movements, human services organizations, and people with lived experience in the criminal legal system. We facilitate collaboration among stakeholders who might not otherwise communicate, helping policymakers and practitioners transcend silos to solve problems.

Our current policy advocacy focuses on two primary areas.

Reducing Barriers to Housing

The Institute leads a robust campaign to reform the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)’s arrest and permanent exclusion policies. We also work to limit the use of background checks in affordable housing and private housing. 

Navigating Barriers to Opportunity

The Institute fights to eliminate higher education policies and practices that limit opportunities for students with past involvement in the criminal legal system. Given our unique position in the City University of New York (CUNY) system, we have the strategic opportunity to guide colleges on their use of background checks and to help students understand how their criminal conviction history might affect future opportunities.

We advance policy reform by creating leadership opportunities for those impacted by the criminal legal system; developing tools and guides for decision-makers and directly impacted people; drafting legislative and policy analysis; and building relationships with government and elected officials.