CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
From mass incarceration to police shootings and killings, and all the way to our court system of convicting officers' wrong doing, there is must needed room for criminal justice reform. Public trust on our police departments have deteriorated over the years, especially with the use of cell phone videos and body cameras. WE know that the excessive and deadly force used by the police has always been there, surveillance cameras have not. This public distrust is valid because many people, including the Native American, African American, Latinx, LGTBQIA+ and the Disabled community, have been unjustly targeted and sometimes end up dead for minor issues like traffic stops, disproportionately to Whites. WE are outraged that when officers do get charged with murder or manslaughter, most often than not, they never get convicted.
From the National spotlights of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose, Philando Castile, to the local spotlights of Ezell Ford, Wakiesha Wilson, Jose Mendez and Jesse Romero, it is clear that there must be criminal justice reform.
DEMILITARIZE POLICE & INCREASE ACCOUNTABILITY
WE MUST hold police officers accountable. We need to establish Civilian & Police Review boards in local communities to have a balanced check on police and make sure they are held accountable for any related police incidents resulting in death or bodily harm to individuals, whether by accident or on purpose.
We must increase police training length, especially in terms of conflict resolution tactics. In some European countries, police training can go up to 3 years so that police can have ample time to learn to better understand, communicate with and calm distraught individuals. US police academies provided an average of 19 weeks of classroom instruction. We must also focus on increased training on de-escalation techniques instead of using deadly force.
We must demilitarize our police forces so that they don’t look and act like they are going to war with our own citizens. Have mandatory community policing requirements of proportional representation where police officers look and act like the people in the communities they are supposed to protect and serve.
Ensure that mental health patients who call law enforcement for help will be treated as medical patients, not criminals. In addition, we need to invest in medical and mental help programs to deal with those having substance abuse issues. We should be treating them from a health perspective, not a criminal perspective.
END THE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE
We must put an end to the school to prison pipeline. Invest more on youth jobs and education, not jails and incarceration. This involves ending the war on drugs that targets people of color disproportionately compared to our White counterparts. In addition, we need to take marijuana off the federal government's list of outlawed drugs / the DEA's Schedule 1 drug list where Heroin is on that same list.
BAN PRIVATE PRISONS
It is time to end the for-profit prisons industry with a direct ban. The prison industrial complex has led to a disproportionate amount of mass incarceration people of color and low-income people. In the United States, we have the world's highest level of prisoners (over 2 million prisoners) compared to any other country.
END MANDATORY MINIMUMS
We must eliminate mandatory minimums, which we have seen negatively affect tougher sentencing for Black and Brown people than Whites. According to the Yale Law Journal, Black men were nearly twice as likely to be charged with an offense that carried a mandatory minimum sentence than White men facing similar circumstances. Judges historically have selected longer and tougher sentences for Blacks, even if they have the same criminal history as Whites.
USE OF FORCE
We will evaluate and reform our current laws regarding the "use of lethal force" to ensure that police officers who are in the wrong of unjustly killing people are indicted AND convicted. There is an overwhelming number of police shootings each year that ends up as "justifiable" in the eyes of the law however, when we see cases like that of Walter Scott, who was shot 3 times in the back while running away, or Eric Garner who was choked to death even though his hands were up and there was large presence of police officers around, it begs to question: what must you do to get an indictment or a conviction for police officers? There is too much leeway for law enforcement officers who get away using lethal force. there must be reform.