Karen believes that the criminal justice system must provide just punishment for people who commit crimes and also ensure incarcerated people are rehabilitated so they have paths to employment and housing when they are released from imprisonment.

Karen strongly supported President Obama’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s decisions to reform our federal prisons sentencing guidelines. Their work led to reducing the time that non-violent drug offenders spend in prison–saving the taxpayer’s money and uniting Americans with their families.

Congress needs to follow their lead. Karen has authored the “SUCCESS Act,” which would allow people with drug convictions who have served their time to apply for federal financial aid for higher education. She also played a significant role in the passage of the bipartisan “First Step Act” in 2018, which incentivizes participation in rehabilitation programs in prison.

Karen is also working to make sure our criminal justice system is fair. She has been working on legislation to modernize federal drug sentencing laws by giving federal judges more discretion in sentencing Americans convicted of nonviolent offenses, and she is making sure that prisoners are treated humanely by prohibiting the use of restraints on pregnant inmates.

In California, Karen was a strong proponent of Proposition 47. Overwhelmingly passed by California voters in 2014, this law reduces the number of non-violent offenses from felonies to misdemeanors–meaning that California will be spending less money on its prison system. In order to ensure that people released from prison succeed when they get home, Karen worked with state officials to get $5 million in the 2014 state budget for re-entry services to help people released from prisons find housing and jobs.