Monday, May 4, 2015

The Hillary 2016 Platform, Part 1: Criminal Justice Reform

Guest post by Lysis

Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Hillary 2016 Platform series, a regular rundown of the policy proposals, issue positions, and guiding principles of Hillary Rodham Clinton's second candidacy for the presidency of the United States.

How It Works:

This is intended to be a living document, with new topics covered regularly and links to previously published topics provided.

Policy topics will be arranged as they are announced and/or updated, with recent news on the top. Sources will be provided in the links under each quote.

For each area of her ultimate platform, what has been announced so far will be broken down into individual relevant categories.

For brevity's sake, I am limiting the first diary to the contents of her major policy speech on Criminal Justice Reform (4/29/15).

Future diaries will cover Women's Rights, Immigration Reform, Marriage Equality, Student Loan Reform, Income Inequality and Trade Policy.

When appropriate, previous diaries may be revised (and possibly republished) as major policies are announced.

Policy Proposals: Specific proposals that have been officially advocated by Hillary Rodham Clinton and her 2016 presidential campaign. All quotes are directly from HRC unless otherwise noted.

Issue Positions: Statements made in support or opposition of existing polices and legislation under consideration by the current administration and Congress. All quotes are directly from HRC unless otherwise noted.

Guiding Principles: Statements that indicate overarching principles that provide a framework for the candidacy as a whole and the concepts and ideals that will inform the development of specific policy proposals as the campaign unfolds. All quotes are directly from HRC unless otherwise noted.

Let's get started with a rundown of her landmark speech on Criminal Justice Reform.


Issue: Criminal Justice Reform

Clinton gave a speech at the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in New York City. During this speech, she made several specific policy proposals along with supporting current initiatives of the Obama administration. The content of the speech suggests that recent campaign hire Maya Harris, who penned the study, "Women of Color: A Growing Force in the American Electorate", is already having a significant impact on Clinton's policy development.

Read and watch the entire speech: Transcript Video

Policy Proposals:

Expand on President Obama's police body camera initiative by making body cameras mandatory everywhere:
We should make sure every police department in the country has body cameras to record interactions between officers on patrol and suspects...
The President has provided the idea of matching funds to state and local governments investing in body cameras. We should go even further and make this the norm everywhere.
Establish Specialized Drug Courts and Juvenile Programs that Keep Low-Level Offenders out of Prison:
We also need probation and drug diversion programs to deal swiftly with violations, while allowing low-level offenders who stay clean and stay out of trouble to stay out of prison. I've seen the positive effects of specialized drug courts and juvenile programs work to the betterment of individuals and communities.
Issue Positions:

Opposes militarization of police departments:
We can start by making sure that federal funds for state and local law enforcement are used to bolster best practices, rather than to buy weapons of war that have no place on our streets.
Supports the recommendations of President Obama's Task Force on Policing:
President Obama's task force on policing gives us a good place to start. Its recommendations offer a roadmap for reform, from training to technology, guided by more and better data.
Guiding Principles:

The deaths that have led to protests against police brutality are not isolated incidents. They are part of a systemic racism present in our society and our criminal justice system:
What we've seen in Baltimore should, indeed does, tear at our soul.

And, from Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable.

Walter Scott shot in the back in Charleston, South Carolina. Unarmed. In debt. And terrified of spending more time in jail for child support payments he couldn't afford.

Tamir Rice shot in a park in Cleveland, Ohio. Unarmed and just 12 years old.

Eric Garner choked to death after being stopped for selling cigarettes on the streets of this city.

And now Freddie Gray. His spine nearly severed while in police custody.
Racial Injustice in the Criminal Justice System is Directly Responsible for Income Inequality in Communities of Color:
We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America.

There is something profoundly wrong when African American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts.

There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes. And an estimated 1.5 million black men are "missing" from their families and communities because of incarceration and premature death.

There is something wrong when more than one out of every three young black men in Baltimore can't find a job.

There is something wrong when trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve breaks down as far as it has in many of our communities.

We have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance. And these recent tragedies should galvanize us to come together as a nation to find our balance again.
Mass Incarceration is Damaging Families, not Reducing Crime:
It's a stark fact that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population, yet we have almost 25 percent of the world's total prison population. The numbers today are much higher than they were 30, 40 years ago, despite the fact that crime is at historic lows.

Of the more than 2 million Americans incarcerated today, a significant percentage are low-level offenders: people held for violating parole or minor drug crimes, or who are simply awaiting trial in backlogged courts.

Keeping them behind bars does little to reduce crime. But it is does a lot to tear apart families and communities.

One in every 28 children now has a parent in prison. Think about what that means for those children.
Mass Incarceration Disproportionately Impacts African-American Families Emotionally and Economically:
When we talk about one and a half million missing African American men, we're talking about missing husbands, missing fathers, missing brothers.
They're not there to look after their children or bring home a paycheck. And the consequences are profound.
Without the mass incarceration that we currently practice, millions fewer people would be living in poverty.
And it's not just families trying to stay afloat with one parent behind bars. Of the 600,000 prisoners who reenter society each year, roughly 60 percent face long-term unemployment.
Money Better Spent on Public Servants than Imprisonment:
Taxpayers are paying about $80 billion a year to keep so many people in prison.
The price of incarcerating a single inmate is often more than $30,000 per year—and up to $60,000 in some states. That's the salary of a teacher or police officer.
One year in a New Jersey state prison costs $44,000—more than the annual tuition at Princeton.
If the United States brought our correctional expenditures back in line with where they were several decades ago, we'd save an estimated $28 billion a year. And I believe we would not be less safe. You can pay a lot of police officers and nurses and others with $28 billion to help us deal with the pipeline issues.
Mental Illness and Substance Abuse need to be addressed outside of the criminal justice system:
You and I know that the promise of de-institutionalizing those in mental health facilities was supposed to be followed by the creation of community-based treatment centers. Well, we got half of that equation—but not the other half. Our prisons and our jails are now our mental health institutions.
I have to tell you I was somewhat surprised in both Iowa and New Hampshire to be asked so many questions about mental health. "What are we going to do with people who need help for substance abuse or mental illness?" "What are we going to do when the remaining facilities are being shut down for budget reasons?" "What are we going to do when hospitals don't really get reimbursed for providing the kind of emergency care that is needed for mental health patients?"
It's not just a problem in our cities. There's a quiet epidemic of substance abuse sweeping small-town and rural America as well. We have to do more and finally get serious about treatment.
I'll be talking about all of this in the months to come, offering new solutions to protect and strengthen our families and communities.
Racial Equality is Directly Correlated to Economic Equality, and Addressing Both is Critical to Our National Agenda:
But I am convinced, as the congenital optimist I must be to live my life, that we can rise to this challenge. We can heal our wounds. We can restore balance to our justice system and respect in our communities. And we can make sure that we take actions that are going to make a difference in the lives of those who for too long have been marginalized and forgotten.
Let's protect the rights of all our people. Let's take on the broader inequities in our society. You can't separate out the unrest we see in the streets from the cycles of poverty and despair that hollow out those neighborhoods.
Despite all the progress we've made in this country lifting people up—and it has been extraordinary—too many of our fellow citizens are still left out.
Twenty-five years ago, in his inaugural address as Mayor, David Dinkins warned of leaving "too many lost amidst the wealth and grandeur that surrounds us."
Today, his words and the emotion behind them ring truer than ever. You don't have to look too far from this magnificent hall to find children still living in poverty or trapped in failing schools. Families who work hard but can't afford the rising prices in their neighborhood.
Mothers and fathers who fear for their sons' safety when they go off to school—or just to go buy a pack of Skittles.
These challenges are all woven together. And they all must be tackled together.
Our goal must truly be inclusive and lasting prosperity that's measured by how many families get ahead and stay ahead...
How many children climb out of poverty and stay out of prison...
How many young people can go to college without breaking the bank...
How many new immigrants can start small businesses ...
How many parents can get good jobs that allow them to balance the demands of work and family.
That's how we should measure prosperity. With all due respect, that is a far better measurement than the size of the bonuses handed out in downtown office buildings.

Upcoming Issues: Women's Rights, Immigration, Marriage Equality, Student Loan Reform, Income Inequality, Trade Policy

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