Our justice system must be just. Yet for so many, violent police and our corporatized prison system represent a massive, cruel, unnecessary and oppressive threat. If we are to truly create a safe and healthy United States, we must shift our focus to the root issues of crime, from poverty to mental illness to homelessness, to lack of care for trauma victims and an inordinate focus on the war on drugs and broken windows policing. Without care, without change, our country will never improve, let alone heal.
- Reallocate police funds to provide much-needed community services from mental health to housing stability.
- Demilitarize and disarm police to minimize unnecessary lethal force.
- Solve the disproportionate impact of policing on BIPOC communities.
- Reduce the ability of police forces to commit human rights abuses against the American people.
- End the prison-industrial complex and its enduring harms.
- Increase our fight against modern slavery (human trafficking) and provide survivor-led support to survivors.
The first American law enforcement bodies were founded to catch escaped slaves and to quell labor activism1 2. Their legacy of violence continues. Racially motivated police brutality is not exaggerated. In Los Angeles alone, 28% of people stopped by LAPD officers in 2018 were Black3, despite Black people only making up nine percent of our city’s population. Black men already account for a wildly disproportionate 34% of prison populations; in one study, up to 55% of Black disabled men reported being incarcerated by age 284. This is not a reflection of reality; this is a reflection of systemic bigotry.
Excessive force is not exaggerated either. The 2017 Police Violence Report showed that most killings by police occured after officers responded to nonviolent offenses or cases where no crime was reported5. More than 1,000 people have been shot by police in 2020 so far6.
Those trapped in our prison system face a lifetime of abuses from the moment they’re put in handcuffs to the moment they die from housing and employment discrimination to, in many places, losing the right to vote. It’s no wonder that 62% of California’s inmates released in 2018 were assessed as being at-risk for recidivism7.
The detrimental effects of over policing extend beyond mass incarceration. The justice system leeches resources from concentrated-poverty neighborhoods through excessive fees, fines, and asset forfeiture. People in these neighborhoods are particularly susceptible to such abuse, because they often cannot afford lawyers.
Finally, we must do a better job of caring for those who have experienced violence, not just at the hands of law enforcement, but because of modern forms of slavery including labor and sex trafficking. Our justice system is fueled by punitive measures, despite the fact that so many crimes are caused by factors outside an individual’s control. If we’re to encourage a healthier and more productive society, we need to stop seeking revenge, and start looking to heal.
How We Plan to Do It
Changing our Police:
- Demilitarize police forces by stopping unnecessary sales of military-grade equipment.
- Reduce funding for police departments and reallocate resources towards much-needed community services, like specialized social and mental healthcare workers.
- End the war on drugs.
- Eliminate mandatory minimums.
- Ban no-knock raids.
- Limit the use of SWAT teams to nonviolent situations.
- End qualified immunity for officers and government officials.
- Combat the infiltration of white supremacist groups into police departments.
- Heavily regulate the use of artificial intelligence by law enforcement.
- Require police officers or police departments to cover liability insurance premium increases due to misconduct8.
- Abolish civil asset forfeiture, which is routinely used to arbitrarily separate citizens from property without regard for due process.
Healing our Communities:
- Acknowledge that issues surrounding policing disproportionately impact BIPOC communities and work with local leaders in those communities to identify and act on ways to reduce the over policing of already vulnerable populations.
- Prohibit profiling by law enforcement and intelligence agencies based on race, religion or national origin by enacting the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act (H.R. 1498).
- Support H.R. 7848, the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act, which would replace school officer programs with more proven effective counseling.
- Support the M.O.R.E. Act, which legalizes marijuana on a federal level and undoes some of the damage caused by the War on Drugs.
Ending Prisoner Abuse, Before and After:
- Reduce incarceration and shift prisons’ focus to rehabilitation.
- Abolish mandatory prison labor. Extend standard labor/workplace protection laws to prison laborers.
- Eliminate housing and employment discrimination against formerly incarcerated people with nonsexual, nonviolent charges, so that their return to society does not become an extended sentence.
- Mandate restoration of voting rights after an incarcerated person’s sentence has been completed.
- Abolish the death penalty.
- Abolish private prisons, which are responsible for egregious human rights violations.
- End the War on Drugs and provide reparations to communities harmed by mass incarceration.
Helping Victims of Abuse, Trauma, and Modern Slavery:
- Build a survivor-led support system for those who have been victims of domestic abuse, human trafficking, and police and prison violence. Work with organizations already doing work in these spaces to identify needs.
- Establish a national domestic violence registry with a heightened class of offenders, consisting of domestically violent armed officers.