Our criminal justice system is in need of comprehensive reform in order to address bias against low-income people and people of color. This is the product of both a long history of discrimination and well-meaning policies that further exacerbate the problem. It will take time and a dedicated focus to fix our criminal justice system, and I am committed to getting it done. Until this is corrected, we cannot have a just system.
Police are the primary public face of our criminal justice system. We must refocus our national conversation about policing around building trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve by requiring every officer to be trained in implicit bias, crisis intervention, and de-escalation. Police also need better training to interact with people suffering from mental illness and trauma. Training models for officers such as the “Warrior Model” are harmful and must be discontinued.
Law enforcement agencies and the courts are spending too much time on low-level nonviolent drug crime, and not nearly enough time on dealing with serious criminal issues such as sex trafficking, and violence against women, particularly native women and women of color. We need to remove the obstacles that hobble tribal authorities from seeking justice in their jurisdictions, and secure the resources necessary to finally test the shameful backlog of rape kits across the country. We also must create a mandatory review process for Death Row inmates’ cases where new DNA evidence is available.
We must end the private prison system. The incentive to chase profits corrupts the purpose of our penal system, and leads to inadequate facilities and rehabilitation programs, and increases rates of recidivism and crime. We also need to reduce reliance on cash bail programs. These programs create a disparity of justice for lower-income people, and often result in job loss, homelessness, and debt for individuals caught in the system as well as their loved ones.
We must keep our streets and schools safe. The lack of action to the national health crisis that is gun violence is one of the great failures in governance we have seen over the past several decades. The broad bipartisan support for common sense reforms among voters such as a universal background check, red flag laws, and reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban are solutions we could implement today if we have the will to act. I will make passing common sense gun safety legislation a top priority in congress.