BREATHE Act Reading List

BREATHE Act Reading List

Our Jewish values guide us toward a deep commitment to healing and repairing our world, and the BREATHE Act provides us with a concrete roadmap to realize this commitment. Realizing our vision of safety requires us to divest from the systems that cause harm — police, prisons, and more — and invest in building systems that sustain and support life. We are part of a powerful Black led, multi-racial, multi-sector movement demanding transformational change at all levels of government and society through investment in our communities and the infrastructure that keeps us safe — schools, public health, and more.

Read on to learn more about the BREATHE Act platform and the world we’re seeking to build. These recommendations are merely suggestions for where to start! Further reading and links to resource pages from our partners can be found below.


Section 1: Divesting federal resources from incarceration and policing & ending criminal-legal system harms

This BREATHE Act section terminates the federal programs and agencies that have been responsible for driving mass criminalization and incarceration. It also makes direct changes to shrink, end the abuses of, and decarcerate the federal criminal-legal and immigration systems. To understand how some of these programs and agencies came to be, who they harm, and why we should divest from them, start here: 

Section 2: Investing in new approaches to community safety utilizing funding incentives

Section 2 of the BREATHE Act builds out the infrastructure for a new paradigm of public safety: a non-punitive, non-carceral, prevention-oriented approach to community safety grounded in public health rather than criminal punishment. As Jews, we have a sacred obligation to pikuach nefesh, to preserve life. We can’t keep our community safe using the violent tools of white supremacy. New approaches to community safety are already here: 

Section 3: Allocating new money to build healthy, sustainable & equitable communities for all people

BREATHE Act Section 3 invests funds into specific areas that are proven to ensure all communities can thrive regardless of the racial, immigration status, or economic make up of that community: education justice, health & family justice, environmental justice, economic justice, and housing justice. Here are some powerful examples:

Section 4: Holding officials accountable & enhancing self-determination of Black communities

Section 4 seeks to establish accountability: historical accountability for the U.S. legacy of racial exclusion and violence; political accountability through free and fair elections; and democratic accountability through measures that will enhance accountability for law enforcement. Here's what that accountability can look like: