Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal Justice Reform

“Democrats are committed to reforming our criminal justice system as a means to improving safety for everyone, including promoting community-based alternatives to mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders.”

We Affirm

1. Something is profoundly wrong when almost a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States, even though our country has less than five percent of the world’s population;

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;

3. The criminal justice system has failed to provide adequate mental health services;

4. The “war on drugs” has led to the imprisonment of millions of Americans, disproportionately people of color, without reducing drug use;

5. Policies that provide for prisoner reentry into society and prevent collateral consequences based on criminal history should be required to reduce recidivism, recognizing that 95% of all prisoners are eventually released;

6. A person’s financial situation, appearance, race, address, or ethnicity should not determine if they go to jail;

7. Commendation and support of law enforcement officers that inspire and build a trusting community and employ creative and effective de-escalation strategies;

8. The diversity of administrators of the criminal justice system should be representative of the community; and

9. The private, for profit, prison industry is predatory, inhumane, exploits racist criminal justice policies and should be eliminated;

We Will

1. Encourage the federal government to remove “marijuana” from the list of Schedule I federal controlled substances and to appropriately regulate cannabis, providing a reasonable pathway for future legalization;

2. Support the decriminalization and legalization of recreational cannabis in the State of New Mexico and the expungement of criminal records for those with solely non-violent, personal cannabis use and possession;

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;

4. Advocate for sufficient funding to hire and train more competent public defenders to ensure every case can be timely and thoroughly represented and processed;

5. End mandatory minimum sentences;

6. Abolish the death penalty and solitary confinement, which are cruel and unusual forms of punishment;

7. Eliminate life without possibility of parole for youthful offenders;

8. 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;

9. Prevent conflicts of interest by creating an independent oversight process for the investigation of crimes involving law enforcement, including designating a chief DA position and/or civilian oversight boards chartered with investigative authority;

10. Remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by preventing employment discrimination based on criminal history during the employment seeking process, expanding re-entry programs, and restoring voting rights;

11. Strengthen and adequately fund diversion and treatment programs as alternatives to arrest and incarceration;

12. Address all health care needs of arrested and incarcerated girls and women, including pregnancyrelated care;

13. Require that all incarcerated individuals, including youth, are afforded medical and mental health services, education, substance use recovery, and rehabilitative services;

14. Treat prosecution and defense equally by providing balanced funding for District Attorney and Public Defender Agencies;

15. Create and adequately fund an Independent Wrongful Conviction Review Commission;

16. Provide adequate mental health facilities and services so as to reduce the incarceration of the mentally ill;

17. End the exploitation of prison labor programs by private industry;

18. Promote expansion of legal aid services in rural communities;

19. Demand all law enforcement personnel receive implicit bias training, violence management, and mental health first aid initiated in the academy and continue throughout their years of service;

20. Demand minimum qualifications for Federal Judge Appointments; and

21. Support specialized courts that focus on unrepresented groups which need special expertise such as those with home insecurity and those with mental illness.


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