Issues

Criminal Justice

The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, but houses nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners. Our broken system disproportionately hurts minorities and poor communities while stunting our economic growth by keeping so many who could be contributing to our economy behind bars.

There are simple, bipartisan approaches we can take in order to reform our criminal justice system. These approaches will make our communities safer and our laws fairer, they will bolster our economy, and they will save lives:

  • End the failed "War on Drugs." The disastrous War on Drugs has been costly, deadly, and a complete failure. We must put an end to mandatory minimum sentencing laws for non-violent drug offenses and recognize — as other countries have successfully done — when drugs are a public health issue, not a criminal one. Furthermore, Marijuana must be removed from the Schedule 1 category to allow researchers to better understand its effects, risks, and benefits.·

  • Repair the damage done by racial bias. Until everyone can live without fear of being subjected to excessive force by those who are supposed to protect us all, we cannot truly say that we are the land of the free. Black Americans are nearly six times more likely to be incarcerated for drug-related offenses than white Americans, despite similar substance usage rates. It's time for this kind of unconscionable disparity to end, and we can begin with outlawing racially biased laws such as "stop and frisk."

  • Remove barriers to reentry. Criminal justice reform must offer a redemptive second chance. I was proud to support the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act, which offers meaningful opportunities for rehabilitation and reentry. And in 2018, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law first-in-the-nation bipartisan clean slate legislation for the state of Pennsylvania, which seals non-violent criminal records and ensures individuals who have served their time do not fall into a lifetime of poverty by removing barriers to housing, education, and economic opportunity. I will keep working to ensure all individuals have a meaningful second chance to rebuild their lives, provide for their families, and contribute to our country’s success.

  • Restore voting rights. Across America, most states make it nearly if not entirely impossible for formerly incarcerated individuals to vote. This is wrong—especially considering these same individuals are counted in census data used to determine congressional districts. We should make it easier for former, nonviolent offenders to rejoin society, and that means working to ensure there is a fair and expeditious process in place for restoring to them their right to vote.

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