During summer 2020, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other Black Americans sparked a national dialogue around the failings of the U.S. criminal justice system. People nationwide joined together in protest of police violence, calling for a new approach to safety and justice. During this crucial moment, the Center for American Progress, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation virtually gathered 1,000 advocates, researchers, artists, and practitioners for the Innovations Conference, a multiday exploration of what it means to reimagine public safety and shrink the footprint of the justice system.
In the months that followed, public protests, spirited discussions, and grassroots campaigns led to remarkable policy changes across the country. Although the work is far from done, the movement has tangibly reshaped the nation's approach to justice and safety, offering a powerful example of community activism and civic engagement in action. This article breaks down five major issues that have shaped the national conversation around safety and justice, weaving in voices from the Innovations Conference to provide a snapshot of the country's progress to date and the pathway forward.