Criminal Justice Reform

Our current criminal justice system is not working because it is unfair and discriminatory. We must reduce the incidence of crime through initiatives that:

  • Eradicate poverty
  • Provide children and youth with opportunities to learn and grow beyond school
  • Improve the availability and effectiveness of drug treatment and rehabilitation programs
  • Encourage people to get education and training (both academic and vocational)
  • Provide opportunities for behavioral healthcare treatment

I support legislation to require that all Law Enforcement Officers wear functioning lapel cameras. Recording interactions with police helps to protect citizens against police abuse, and also helps to protect police officers from false accusations. People tend to act better if they know they are being watched and recorded. I support and would sponsor legislation that requires all lapel-camera data to be made public for free, unless there is an overriding security issue related to an individual recording (but these should be rare).

Our systems that "weed out" abusive policemen do not work very well, as shown very clearly by the recent killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Most law-enforcement officers are decent people who fulfill our critical need for protection. However, the dysfunctional officers are not being weeded out. As your representative, I will work with experts in the area to craft legislation that addresses this problem.

I support behavioral health treatment and job training for inmates and ex-convicts. With such treatment and training, they will have greatly increased opportunities to turn their lives around, after they get out of prison. A sentence for a crime should not be a life sentence that permanently limits the person's ability to be hired for a job after release. Without positive opportunities, recidivism becomes a way of life.

Our prisons should not be privatized. They should be government agencies, accountable to us. Private prison companies often lobby for stiffer sentences and to keep marijuana illegal to increase their profit. When private prison corporations take over a prison, their contracts often require the state to guarantee a certain level of occupancy.

Orgs working to make a difference

We cannot truly solve the incarceration overpopulation problem without solving the root cause which is often childhood trauma. For a powerful video explaining this, please see the Compassion Prison Project and see also my page Early Childhood Education.

In addition, the Marshall Project has studied inmates asking them what support could have kept them from making decisions that got them incarcerated.

Another organization doing wonderful work in the space of juvenile justice reform is the Cicero Institute.

As the people at the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation say, "Restorative Justice repairs the harm caused by the crime. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results can be transformational." As your representative, I will support legislation to institute Restorative Justice programs in our prisons; these programs bring convicts and their victims together for reconciliation.