We must end the era of mass incarceration. When we have more people in prison than authoritarian and oppressive police-state authoritarian regimes, there's a problem. To that end, I will propose/support legislation to accomplish the following:
- End the disastrous "War on Drugs". We need to look at addiction realistically, and treat it as a healthcare issue. It is a known scientific fact that drugs (including legal ones) impact the neurological structure and functioning of the brain. Treating this as a healthcare issue ensures that people struggling with addiction can come out of the shadows and seek treatment without fear of their lives being ruined, which means they can recover and contribute to society rather than falling farther down the rabbit hole and resorting to desperate action to get their fix.
- Severely curtail the military style hardware given to local police departments while also eliminating the "Use it soon or lose it" requirement. I recognize there are times when this hardware is required, however local police departments should not resemble occupying military forces.
- Create a national requirement for all police officers to wear body cameras at all times while on duty. The video feeds will be automatically uploaded to decentralized servers throughout the country. This will help protect police against erroneous or false accusations, as well as ensure that officers who break the law are held accountable. This will aid in restoring the trust and bond between police departments and the communities they serve.
- I recognize that smaller and more rural police departments will have a more difficult time complying with this. As a result, and to remain fair to all police departments, a first time implementation fund will be created to aid police departments in complying.
- Encourage states to ensure police departments have a vested interest in the communities they serve. LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers) should reside in the communities they serve as much as is feasible, and a return to "walking a beat" so the communities once again see the police as approachable allies instead of potential adversaries.
- Evaluate sentences for all non-violent offenders, and release as many as possible.
- Eliminate questions concerning potential criminal backgrounds from employment applications (except in industries like finance, healthcare, law enforcement, etc.). Everyone deserves a second chance and too often people who have made mistakes and paid their debt to society are excluded from gainful employment because of their records. This often results in re-offending and contributes to an endless cycle of crime.
- Note: This would not eliminate the question from being asked during an interview. This gives the opportunity for potential employees to make their case directly to an interviewer rather than being dismissed without consideration.
- Eliminate for-profit prisons. Profit incentives to keep people in prison is insane, and wrong. Often these prisons use their inmates to contract our for various services (phone tech support for example) while paying the inmates pennies an hour. This has become a new form of slave labor and must be abolished. Additionally, many of these prisons require their capacity to be at or near 100%, and bill the jurisdictions they reside in for unfilled beds.
- Re-institute educational programs to provide inmates an opportunity to earn a high school diploma and/or a college degree. This will assist them after release and allow them to be productive members of society and break the cycle of recidivism.
- Decriminalize homelessness. By making homelessness a crime, we have essentially recreated debtors prisons. Many homeless individuals are homeless due to untreated mental illness. They require healthcare, not incarceration.