Criminal Justice Reform

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Reforming our Broken Criminal Justice System

The United States incarcerates far too many of the wrong people, decimating families and costing billions. The time to reform America’s criminal justice system in a manner that best protects the public interest is long overdue.

Keeping People Out of Jail through Specialty Courts

It sounds too easy, but the best way to lower the incarceration numbers is to keep people out of jail. Many of those that touch the criminal justice system have mental health or substance abuse issues. Some estimates suggest half of the prison population some kind of mental health issue. Meanwhile, the US makes over 1 million drug arrests each year, and drug possession makes up 6 times the number of arrests as drug sales. Fully 1 in 5 incarcerated individuals are in prison because of a drug offense.

The Less Fortunate Shouldn’t Suffer Harsher Penalties

The US system of using money for bail disproportionately harms the poor. Of all the people being held in local jails throughout the country, roughly 70 percent have yet to be convicted of any crime. In fact, most of the growth in jails over the past 15 years is from those who are not yet convicted of any crime. This is largely due to those individuals’ inability to access the necessary funds.

The Government Shouldn’t Be Able to Take Your Property if You Are Not Yet Convicted

Police forces across the country seize the property of people suspected of crimes, not just those convicted of a crime, through civil asset forfeiture. The police typically keep the property and use its value to pad department budgets. People who have property seized under civil asset forfeiture must bring an action to prove that the property itself was not utilized in a crime. If such an action is even brought, it is extremely costly.

Private Prison are Contrary to American Ideals

The use of private prisons grew in recent years as legislatures looked for ways to cut funding even in the face of a growing prison population. As of now, 18 percent of federal prisoners are incarcerated in private prisons. Texas leads all states with the most prisoners in private prisons.

Abolish Mandatory Minimums

In the height of the drug scare during the 1980’s, Congress passed additional mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for drug offenses. This policy led to harsher sentences on minorities and the poor as a result of Congress binding the hands of courts to impose unique judgements appropriate to each case. No policy that leads to inequitable sentences depending on race or income can be just.

Smooth the Transition for Those That Paid Their Debt

Former prisoners have a difficult time reintegrating into society. Their family structures were altered as a result of their incarceration. Many lack the necessary skills to find work. Even if they do have the necessary skills, employers are hesitant to hire former prisoners. Releasing offenders back into society without those skills and support systems just results in more crime. We must do better for them, and for us.

Increased Opportunity for All is the Best Way to Limit Crime

No, we can’t stop all crime. But, we can limit it by increasing the opportunity available to all those who might otherwise get dragged into criminal actions. Policies that create jobs, provide health care to those in need, and expand education will always be the best ways to limit crime. Republicans would warehouse folks rather than creating an environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

I intend to stand for all, I intend to leave no one behind.