Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal Justice Reform

Democrats seek to improve public safety by reforming the criminal justice system to focus on programs that prevent criminal activity, divert people from crime, prosecution, and detention, rehabilitate the accused and the detained, find community-based alternatives to mass incarceration, and prioritize holistic healing of crime victims and perpetrators through restorative justice practices. All people who live and work in places of detention have the right to high-quality healthcare.

We Affirm

1. Something is profoundly unjust when almost a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the U. S., even
though our country has less than five percent of the world’s population; and
2. Instead of investing in more jails and incarceration, we need to invest more in jobs and education for the
incarcerated and for the average citizen, and end the school-to-prison pipeline; and
3. The criminal justice system has failed to provide adequate mental health, victim assistance, rehabilitation, and
re-entry services; and
4. The “war on drugs”: has led to the imprisonment of millions of Americans, disproportionately people of color,
without reducing drug use; and
5. Policies that provide for prisoner reentry into society and that prevent and reduce collateral consequences based
on criminal history should be required to reduce recidivism, recognizing that 95% of all prisoners are eventually
released; and
6. A person’s financial situation, appearance, race, address, or ethnicity should not determine if they go to jail; and
7. Adequate funding is required to fulfill the constitutional right of all defendants to a full and fair trial; therefore, we
demand equitable and full financial funding of public defenders; and
8. Commendation and support of law enforcement officers who inspire and build a trusting community and employ
creative and effective de-escalation strategies; and
9. The diversity of administrators of the criminal justice system should be representative of the community; and
10. The private, for-profit prison industry is predatory, inhumane, and exploits racist criminal justice policies and
should be eliminated; and
11. Adequate training of officers to fulfill their duties is paramount and we must increase mandatory annual training
to include more emphasis on cultural sensitivity, anti-racism, and techniques for de-escalation; and
12. Health care provided to those held in detention should be on par with health care services provided outside of the
criminal justice system; and
13. Public health orders should be followed and enforced at all incarceration facilities to ensure the health of all
residing and working in those facilities.

We Will

1. Encourage the federal government to remove “marijuana” from the list of Schedule I federally controlled
substances and to appropriately regulate cannabis, providing a reasonable pathway for future legalization; and
2. Continue to pursue the expungement of criminal records for those with solely nonviolent, personal cannabis use
and possession charges; and
3. Support the use of DNA testing and timely rape kit processing to protect the wrongfully accused, set free the
wrongfully convicted, and prosecute the perpetrators; and
4. Fully fund programs for victims of sexual assault, especially in rural and tribal communities; and
5. Advocate for sufficient funding to hire and train more competent public defenders to ensure every case can be
thoroughly represented and processed in a timely manner; and
6. End mandatory minimum sentences; and
7. Abolish the death penalty and solitary confinement, which are cruel and unusual forms of punishment; and
8. Eliminate life without possibility of parole for youthful offenders; and
9. End policies based on racial profiling that target individuals solely on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or
national origin, which is un-American and counterproductive; and
10. Prevent conflicts of interest by creating an independent oversight process for the investigation of crimes involving
law enforcement, including designating a chief District Attorney position and/or civilian oversight boards
chartered with investigative authority; and
11. Remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by expanding re-entry
programs and preventing employment discrimination based on criminal history ; and
12. Guarantee the voting rights of the incarcerated upon release from custody; and
13. Strengthen and adequately fund diversion and treatment programs as alternatives to arrest and incarceration; and
14. Address all dental and health care needs of arrested and incarcerated girls and women, including
pregnancy-related care; and
15. Require that all incarcerated individuals, including youth, are afforded medical and mental health services,
education, and substance-use recovery and rehabilitative services; and
16. Treat prosecution and defense equitably by providing balanced funding for District Attorney and Public Defender
agencies; and
17. Create and adequately fund an Independent Wrongful Conviction Review Commission; and
18. Provide adequate mental health facilities and services to reduce the incarceration of the mentally ill; and
19. End the exploitation of prison labor programs by private industry; and
20. Promote expansion of legal aid services in rural communities; and
21. Demand all law enforcement personnel receive implicit-bias training, violence management, and mental health
first aid beginning in the academy and continuing throughout their years of service; and
22. Demand minimum qualifications for Federal Judge Appointments; and
23. Support specialized courts that focus on unrepresented groups that need special expertise, such as those with home insecurity and those with mental illness; and
24. Use data- and evidence-based approaches to enact and evaluate criminal justice reform in lieu of anecdotes,
testimonials, interviews, media reports, and stories; and
25. Re-evaluate the severity of punishments for drug-related crimes; and
26. Zealously protect the constitutional rights of defendants and victims of crime; and
27. Ensure better health care in places of detention; and
28. Demand full implementation of public health orders in all places for incarceration.

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