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Representative John Conyers (D-MI) delivered this week’s CBC Message To America addressing the deeply rooted issues of crime, persistent poverty in urban communities of color, and criminal justice reform.

Rep. Conyers, a Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, explained, “The number of high poverty urban neighborhoods in the nation’s largest cities have tripled over the last 40 years.”

As a result, “Increased poverty has resulted in further segregation of neighborhoods and reduction of employment opportunities, access to affordable housing, and educational services.” Conyers continued, “Increased food and transportation services have all added yet another barrier for working class families to stay a float.”

“These conditions make our communities more vulnerable to crime, and the government’s knee-jerk response of over-incarceration has deprived our communities of the resources necessary to encourage economic development and crime prevention programs.”

“Disproportional sentencing laws have had a deep impact on high poverty,” Conyers said. “One in ten Black men in their thirties is incarcerated on any given day and more than 60 percent of our prisoners are racial and ethnic minorities.”

To combat these alarming trends, Rep. Conyers introduced the Law Enforcement Integrity Act to make police officers more accountable.

Conyers also highlighted the End Racial Profiling Act and the Sentencing Reform Act, which would narrow the scope of mandatory minimum prison sentences, and other pieces of legislation that could have a major impact in reversing the broken criminal justice system as well as curb mass incarceration.

Rep. Conyers told viewers he would continue to work even more to reverse the damage of persistent poverty in urban communities and mass incarceration, but the legislation he discussed in this week’s CBC Message to America would be a ”good start to bringing hope to families who’ve suffered from overly strict sentences.”

“Ultimately, the same amount of energy poured into reforming our criminal justice system must also be centered on expanding education, job creation, access to affordable healthcare, and housing and crime prevention programs,” said Conyers.

Rep. Conyers wrapped his remarks: “Proactive investment in our communities now is vital to a successful future.”

Watch Congressman John Conyer’s address in the video clip above.

For more information about the Congressional Black Caucus, visit


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