Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

Reform Drug Laws and End Private Prisons

We are a divided country on so many fronts, from politics to religion, guns to abortion. Not surprisingly, the criminal justice system is yet another flashpoint. You’re either for Black Lives Matter or for Blue Lives Matter. You are either 100 percent behind police or anti-law enforcement.  

As if there is no room for middle ground to condemn bad policing and rogue cops while supporting the many who risk their lives to protect us.

We need leaders in government who will stop mining that divide for votes, money and power and start recognizing the lives that are at stake here. We need a Congress that can work together for solutions to problems that affect all of us, no matter what side of the political fence.

How do we work to fix it? Let’s start with the honest assessment that the criminal justice system needs some fundamental changes.

The federal prison population has grown almost eight-fold since 1980 because of “The War on Drugs.” This false war has led to massive incarcerations but no reduction in drug use. It has failed.

The federal government should remove marijuana from the list of “Schedule 1” federally controlled substances so it can be appropriately regulated and legalized as many states are now doing. Those forward-looking states are reaping the tax benefits of what was once an unregulated, underground trade. And it will keep non-violent offenders out of the prison system where they don’t belong.

We must end federal contracts with for-profit, private prisons and detention centers. These facilities only profit the corporations and the politicians that support them, not the communities in which they are located. The private prison industry supported the election campaign of the current administration. Now they are being rewarded with inmates filling their beds by the Attorney General’s plan to arrest marijuana offenders in states where it has been made legal and by the unconscionable roundup of undocumented immigrants. 

We must rebuild the “bonds of trust” between local police and the communities they patrol. Uniformed officers should wear body cameras for everyone’s protection. We should have more training to reduce the use of deadly force. Finally, we must support improvements to public schools, including after school programs, that make children less likely to end up in prison and more likely to be productive citizens. 

And I can never in good conscience support the death penalty, because it is cruel and used disproportionately against poor people and people of color.

If my vision reflects your vision, won’t you please volunteer for or contribute to our campaign? Working together, our vision can become reality.