Democratic candidates, Clinton and Sanders held another town meeting on March 13th, in Ohio. Both candidates answered questions about reforming the American system of justice. As it now stands, the United States has the most inmates and prisons in the world. Approximately 25% of the world’s inmates are in the United States, even though the United States has only 5% of the world’s population. On the whole, for past decades, the American system of justice has focused on punishment of offenders without providing real rehabilitation. Since the early 1970’s, the American system of criminal justice has treated non-violent individuals with mental health issues and addictions as criminals.
There is a growing movement in the past five years for reformation of our system of criminal justice. Two former Republicans presidential candidates, Sen. Paul and Gov. Christie have advocated for reform of our criminal justice system. The remaining Republican candidates have been silent about criminal justice reform.
Both Sen. Sanders and Secr. Clinton have called for criminal justice reform. Both candidates have demanded an end of criminal justice discrimination. Clinton and Sanders want the end of disproportionate sentencing of minorities. Depending on the jurisdiction, White men, 18-29 have received lesser sentences than Black or Latino males of the same age group for the same offenses.
Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, early in his campaign focused on the end private prisons. Private prisons are criticized for their primary goal of achieving profit instead of providing a safe environment for inmates and correctional officers. Sander’s has offered a bill in the senate that would end all government contracts for privately managed federal prisons and jails within three years of the approved legislation.
At this past town hall meeting in Ohio, Clinton demanded the decriminalization of mentally ill and addicted offenders who compose hundreds of thousands of inmates in the local, state, and federal prisons.
True reform of our criminal justice system can only be achieved by judicially recognizing that nonviolent mentally ill individuals and persons with addictions are not criminal offenders. We should not incarcerate nonviolent mentally ill offenders, instead we should instead provide effective mental health care for those individuals in their local communities. We should not incarcerate individuals with addiction issues, instead, we need to provide proficient drug treatment programs in their local communities. To end the endless cycle of high recidivism, we need re-entry programs that provide jobs and safe housing for our returning citizens.
If you believe it is now the time for criminal justice reformation, vote Democratic.
By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com