Retail industry claims to embrace criminal justice reform all while trying to derail it, new report reveals

Best Buy, Home Depot, Target, CVS and Walmart are among the retailers that have tried to derail state-level criminal justice reforms.

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A new report released by Public Citizen shows retailers who pledged their support against racism and police violence have actually fought criminal justice reforms in more than 18 states. While many retailer’s rhetoric and pledges say one thing, research showed their actions actually pushed for longer sentences and higher fines against shoplifting.

According to the report published by Public Citizen, Best Buy, Home Depot, Target, CVS and Walmart are among the top retailers that have tried to derail state-level criminal justice reforms.

While many statements by major retail corporations said they will “move forward—together—in the fight for greater racial equity” (Walmart), “[use] our size, scale and resources to help heal and create lasting change” (Target), “invest in changing the status quo” (Albertsons Safeway) and “stand with all who are committed to change that will bring us closer to realizing an end to discrimination and hatred” (Home Depot), in 11 out of 18 states the retail industry succeeded in undermining criminal justice reform, according to the report. Currently, the retail industry is opposing criminal justice reform in both California and Illinois.

Albertsons Safeway and Kroger in California are pushing for Proposition 20, “an initiative on the ballot in November that, among other things, would make it easier for prosecutors to increase sentences for accused shoplifters,” the report revealed.

The retail industry’s top priority is to keep the dollar amount of theft from a retailer as low as possible so anything over can be charged as a felony, Public Citizen reported. In Virginia, it’s set at $200, and in Florida and Illinois it’s set at $300.

While shoplifting is associated with poverty, the study revealed that the retail industry’s actions are doing nothing to make a difference against systemic racism and police violence.

“Retail corporations have been exceptionally outspoken about their supposed allyship with Black Americans and communities of color,” Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen research director and author of the report, said. “It’s shocking that so many of these same companies are behind efforts to make it easier for police to lock up nonviolent offenders. The year 2020 is not the time to turn back the clock on what small progress reformers have made against mass incarceration.”

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