Issues

Criminal Justice Reform and Public Safety

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

There are common-sense, 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:

 

 

  • Strengthen public safety. We rely on our local police departments to respond to a variety of issues every day, and it is important to provide them with the resources and training they need to do their jobs and keep our communities safe. That’s why I have consistently supported robust funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Program and the Community Oriented Policing Services programs. These community safety programs provide local and state law enforcement with the resources, personnel, and training they need to serve our communities. And I have introduced bipartisan legislation, the Safe Interactions Act, which would improve interactions between law enforcement officers and people with disabilities and mental health needs, to help officers protect and serve all members of our community.

 

  • 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." I have voted in support of the Justice in Policing Act, which would increase trust between police and the communities they serve, expand community-based policing programs, and collect data on police encounters, to work to ensure good outcomes for everyone involved.

 

  • 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 into society. This is helping to ensure that people who were previously incarcerated can work and meaningfully contribute to society instead of returning to prison. I will keep working to ensure all individuals have a real 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. We should make it easier for nonviolent offenders who have served their time and paid their debt to rejoin society, and that means working to ensure there is a fair and expeditious process in place to restore their right to vote.

 

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