Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hillary Clinton's Stand On Criminal Justice Reform

(This phot of Hillary Clinton is from


Hillary believes that, to successfully reform our criminal justice system, we must work to strengthen the bonds of trust between our communities and our police, end the era of mass incarceration, and ensure a successful transition of individuals from prison to home. As president, she will: 
  • Work to strengthen bonds of trust between communities and police. Effective policing and constitutional policing go hand-in-hand—we can and must do both. Hillary will work to promote effective, accountable, constitutional policing, including:
    • Making new investments to support state-of-the-art law enforcement training programs at every level on issues such as implicit bias, use of force, de-escalation, community policing and problem solving, alternatives to incarceration, crisis intervention, and officer safety and wellness. 
    • Strengthening the U.S. Department of Justice’s pattern or practice unitby increasing resources, working to secure subpoena power, and improving data collection for pattern or practice investigations. 
    • Doubling funding for the U.S. Department of Justice “Collaborative Reform” program to provide technical assistance and training to agencies that undertake voluntary efforts toward transformational reform of their police departments. Across the country, there are police departments deploying creative and effective strategies that we can learn from and build on.
    • Supporting legislation to end racial profiling by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials. 
    • Providing federal matching funds to make body cameras available to every police officer to increase transparency and accountability on both sides of the lens.
    • Promoting oversight and accountability in use of controlled equipment by limiting the transfer of military equipment by the federal government to local law enforcement, eliminating the one-year use requirement, and requiring transparency by agencies that purchase equipment using federal funds.
    • Collecting and reporting national data on policing to inform policing strategies and provide greater transparency and accountability, including robust state and local data on issues such as crime, officer involved shootings, and deaths in custody.
    • Creating national guidelines for use of force that recognize the need for officers to protect their safety and the safety of others, but emphasize use of force as a last resort and at the appropriate level. The federal government has an important role to play in standardizing best practices for the use of force.
  • Take action on mandatory minimum sentences. Excessive federal mandatory minimum sentences keep nonviolent drug offenders in prison for longer than is necessary or useful and have increased racial inequality in our criminal justice system. Hillary will reform mandatory minimum sentences, including:
    • Reducing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses by cutting them in half. 
    • Applying Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactively to allow current nonviolent prisoners to seek fairer sentences.
    • Eliminating the sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine so that equal amounts of crack and powder cocaine carry equal sentences and applying this change retroactively.
    • Reforming the “strike” system to focus on violent crime by narrowing the category of prior offenses that count as strikes to exclude nonviolent drug offenses, and reducing the mandatory penalty for second- and third-strike offenses.
    • Granting additional discretion to judges in applying mandatory minimum sentences by expanding the “safety valve” to a larger set of cases. 
  • Focus federal enforcement resources on violent crime, not simple marijuana possession. Marijuana arrests, including for simple possession, account for a huge number of drug arrests. Further, significant racial disparities exist in marijuana enforcement, with black men significantly more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts, even though usage rates are similar. Hillary believes we need an approach to marijuana that includes:
    • Allowing states that have enacted marijuana laws to act as laboratories of democracy, as long as they adhere to certain federal priorities such as not selling to minors, preventing intoxicated driving, and keeping organized crime out of the industry. 
    • Rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance. Hillary supports medical marijuana and would reschedule marijuana to advance research into its health benefits. 
  • Prioritize treatment and rehabilitation—rather than incarceration—for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders. Over half of prison and jail inmates suffer from a mental health problem, and up to 65 percent of the correctional population meets the medical criteria for a substance use disorder. Hillary will ensure adequate training for law enforcement for crisis intervention and referral to treatment, as appropriate, for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with mental health or addiction problems. She will also direct the attorney general to issue guidance to federal prosecutors on seeking treatment over incarceration for low-level, nonviolent drug crimes. Read more on Hillary’s plan to tackle America’s epidemic of addiction.
  • End the privatization of prisons. Hillary believes we should move away from contracting out this core responsibility of the federal government to private corporations, and from creating private industry incentives that may contribute—or have the appearance of contributing—to over-incarceration. The campaign does not accept contributions from federally registered lobbyists or PACs for private prison companies, and will donate any such direct contributions to charity.
  • Promote successful re-entry by formerly incarcerated individuals. This year, the number of people released from state or federal prison will reach approximately 600,000. For those given a second chance, and for the health and safety of the communities to which those individuals return, the reentry pathway must not be littered with barriers, but rather paved with a fair opportunity for success. Clinton will work to remove barriers and create pathways to employment, housing, health care, education, and civic participation, including:
    • Taking executive action to “ban the box” for federal employers and contractors, so that applicants have an opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications before being asked about their criminal records.
    • Supporting legislation to restore voting rights to individuals who have served their sentences.

1 comment:

  1. I hardly agree with everything -- but then I don't expect to. I am one single, eccentric 70-year old (who has been smoking marijuana on a daily basis for most of the last fifty years). And there is no topic where I would be comfortable voting for someone who agreed with me 100% of the time. I am electing someone to preside over the whole country, not electing the best sockpuppet I can find, and there will be things she will do that will get me angry -- smoke coming from the ears, cursing-level angry. That's a good thing, because what I see is best is not always going to be what she does, and what is best for me is not necessarily the best thing for the nation. And I am no political genius, and something I see as possible may be something she knows can't be done yet. (And of course there are times when I am simply wrong about something, and hopefully will come around to realizing that.)
    Having said that, which is partially a rebound from arguing too much with Barnberners, recently. this is an exceptional paper, and one I mostly support. And particular praise to her for her comments on prison privatization, not an issue that will get much attention -- particularly in the East -- but a very important one, and a festering sore for the states who have tried it.
    On marijuana, I'd, of course, like to see it on 'local option' everywhere in the country -- but if Mark Kleiman is right -- he is sometimes -- some treaties may have to be renegotiated for this to be technically possible. (At one time the treaties -- which Nixon all but blackmailed countries into accepting -- would have been easier to change, but African nations -- as with GLBTQ rights -- have become among the strongest fighters against change, and it may not be as easy as it once would have been.) Until then, there is always the 'prosecutorial discretion' and 'best use of available funds' arguments to eliminate federal prosecution.
    I have more to say on this, including the two jobs I'd like to have once it is legal (advisor to the marijuana department at my local hospital, or working for the inevitable council that will be needed to formalize the proper use and names of the 6000+ strains currently available -- so when someone buys Hawaiian it is real Hawaiian.) And how it will be regulated once it is sold predominantly at roadside stands and farmer's markets, as I see iit heading.
    More later on this and on some disagreements I have on some drugs -- am I the ony person who disagrees that crack cocaine and powdered cocaine are equivalents? But I have a doctor's appointment in a couple of hours, so -- later..


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