Criminal Justice

To truly have a system of justice, America must fundamentally reform its criminal justice and law enforcement policies. Today, America’s criminal justice system perpetuates inequality and perpetrates the injustices it purports to defend against. Across America, our criminal justice policies are riddled with systemic racist and classist biases that break families and take lives. 

Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and now, George Floyd are only the most well-known and recent among a long list of black Americans murdered by the police. America will never have peace until we dismantle the systemic racism that devalues black lives and allows officers to murder with impunity. 

Police equipment, tactics, and training must be reformed and de-militarized to reflect a community-first perspective that protects and respects the rights of all people. Violence must be the absolute last resort for law enforcement, used only when an officer or an innocent bystander’s life is in obvious danger. We must create accountability at the federal level—local law enforcement cannot be solely responsible for policing their own behavior. 

From for-profit prisons to the death penalty and extended solitary confinement, many of America’s criminal justice policies represent abuses of their own. We cannot, in good faith, call America’s system of mass incarceration a justifiable measure for public safety. With about 5% of the world’s population, Americans make up a quarter of the world’s prisoners, more than any other nation—a damning statistic for the land of the free.

America must move from a system of punitive justice towards a system of restorative justice, one that keeps communities safe, mandates non-violent de-escalation tactics, and equips those who are incarcerated with the emotional resilience, education, and vocational training to become productive members of society upon release. 

Justice should be about emphasizing accountability and repairing harm, not locking people up. When our laws do not align with even basic principles of moral justice, our laws must change. 

IN CONGRESS, I WILL FIGHT TO: 

  • Create a federal office at the Department of Justice that will field allegations, investigate, and prosecute police violence—this can’t be done at the local level

  • Reform law enforcement training and tactics mandating nonviolent de-escalation tactics, requiring that violence be used as the absolute last resort

  • Create criminal liability if deadly violence is used by law enforcement in situations where the suspect does not present an imminent threat to the lives of civilians or officers—creating explicit limits to “qualified immunity”  

  • End cash bail nationwide similar to what we have done in New York—a person’s freedom should never depend on whether or not they can pay

  • Restore voting rights to former felons; once individuals have served their debt to society for crimes, their right to vote must be returned

  • End mandatory minimum sentencing 

  • Remove police officers from schools, end the practice of treating juveniles as adults in court, and put nurses and therapists in all schools K-12

  • Fund programs to provide access for therapy, healthcare, education, and vocational opportunities for the formerly incarcerated, so that they can rejoin their communities as productive and healthy citizens 

  • Legalize marijuana and expunge records of those with low-level drug offenses 

  • End for-profit prisons and create metrics to measure the efficacy of rehabilitation at prisons nationwide

  • Ban the death penalty nationwide

 

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