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The Protected Class Network

The Protected Class Network is a civil rights movement developed by formerly incarcerated Black women who know from our own experience how people like us are legally denied our basic civil rights because of our conviction or arrest history. The Protected Class Network builds on the 2022 passage of an ordinance that made justice-impacted people a protected class in Atlanta. The Prison Policy Initiative, the anti-mass incarceration movement’s foremost research and policy organization, included “barring discrimination against people based on conviction history” as a “winnable criminal justice reform.” Founded in 2023, the Protected Class Network currently includes 10 justice-impacted-led organizations working in 15 states and the District of Columbia to pass similar legislation in their communities. 


People with conviction or arrest records have their lives and progress severely constrained by permanent punishments that are imposed locally by “the country’s estimated 3,000 county governments and nearly 36,000 municipal, town, and township governments,” as well as by more than 44,000 separate federal and state permanent punishments. These prevent or limit the access of people with conviction or arrest records to employment, housing, education, public benefits, and much more. Without anti-discrimination protection for people with records, municipal, town, township, and county civil law sanctions, restrictions, and disqualifications impede our reintegration into the community, fail to promote public safety, and curtail our civil rights.