So here’s the Democrats’ Protecting Communities and Building Trust by Reforming our Criminal Justice System:
Note: In the second paragraph of this section of the Platform, Democrats state: “Democrats believe we need to overhaul the criminal justice system from top to bottom.”
That’s a pretty tall order. Let’s see how they plan to do it.
|We will||By||So that||Progress|
|Build a school-to-opportunity pipeline instead of a school-to-prison pipeline||Affording sufficient funding to schools for guidance counselors, social workers, or school psychologists||We prevent people from entering the criminal justice system.||Improving Mental Health Access for Students Act passed the Senate May 12, 2021. It is limited to funding to prevent suicide. According to GovTrack.us, it stands a 2% chance of becoming law.|
|Stop punishing children as harshly as adults.||Automatically sealing and expunging juvenile records;|
Stop incarcerating kids, and develop community-based alternatives to prison and detention centers for youth and invest in after-school programs, community centers, and summer jobs
|We provide opportunities for young people at risk.||H.R. 2908: Childhood Offenders Rehabilitation and Safety Act of 2021 was introduced in April 2021. According to GovTrack.us, it stands a 2% chance of becoming law.|
H.R. 3510: First Step Implementation Act of 2021 was introduced in May 2021. It provides for expungement of juvenille records for non-violent crimes. According to GovTrack.us, it stands a 2% change of becoming law.
|Establish strict national standards governing the use of force||Investing in robust training and putting in place; |
Enforcing strong standards governing conflict resolution, de-escalation, and use of force.
|Ensure police accountability||HR 3026: Ue of Force Accountability Act of 2021 Tauthorizes the Department of Justice to award grants to help states and Indian tribes implement an independent investigation of law enforcement statute. According to Govtracks.us it stands a 3% chance of passing.|
|End the War on Drugs||Reorienting our public safety approach toward prevention and away from over-policing;|
Making evidence-based investments in jobs, housing, education, and the arts.
|Make our nation fairer, freer, and more prosperous.||HR3617: MORE Act was introduced and co-sponsored by so many Democrats I couldn’t count them all. It has a 3% chance of passing according to Govtrack.us. The MORE Act contains some of these elements|
|Reinvigorate community policing approaches|
Build effective partnerships with social workers and mental health and substance use counselors
|Limiting the sale and transfer of surplus military|
weapons to domestic law enforcement agencies;
Supporting the use of body cameras
|Officers on the beat better serve the neighborhoods they work in;|
We respond better to public health challenges.
|HR 2314 Protect Our Police Act was introduced in May 2021. It would codify sales and the permanent loan of military weapons to domestic law enforcement agencies. This is in direct opposition to the plank in the Democratic Platform.|
|Address systemic misconduct by prosecutors;|
Ensure that victims of federal, state, or local law enforcement abuses of power can seek justice
|Invigorating pattern-or-practice investigations into police misconduct at the Department of Justice, and strengthening them through new subpoena powers and expanded oversight;|
Lowering the intent standard for federally prosecuting law enforcement officials for civil rights violations;
Reining in the doctrine of qualified immunity.
|We create trust between law enforcement and the public.||The House H.R. 1280: George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 (Govtrack.us predicts a 2% chance success)|
Promote transparency and accountability.
|Collecting and publishing data on the use of force in police;|
Establishing a national registry of officers who have been found to have abused their power.
|Americans have access to timely and accurate data on activities supported by their tax dollars, including policing.||HR 1338 Police CAMERA Act of 2021 will authorize grant programs to state and local governments to purchase body cameras. It stands a 3% chance of passing.|
|Increase diversity among the ranks of police departments||Funding for officer health and well-being in police departments across the country, including for personal safety equipment and mental health service.||Our law enforcement agencies look more like the communities they serve.||The COPS counseling Act was signed into law in November 2021|
Protecting America’s First Responders Act was signed into law in November 2021.
|Support legalization of medical marijuana;|
Allow states to make their own decisions about recreational use of marijuana
|Decriminalizing marijuana use and rescheduling it|
through executive action on the federal level.
Expunging convictions for cannabis use
Increasing use of drug courts, harm reduction interventions, and treatment diversion programs for those struggling with substance
|We reclassify substance use disorders as diseases, not crimes.||HR3617: MORE Act was introduced and co-sponsored by so many Democrats I couldn’t count them all. It has a 3% chance of passing according to Govtrack.us. The MORE Act includes decriminalization and expunging records for cannabis use.|
|Ensure equal justice under the law.||Eliminating the use of cash bail;|
Increasing funding for public defenders and for the Legal Services Corporation
|We stop treating poverty as a crime;|
No one is imprisoned merely for failing to pay fines or fees.
|HR 1249 No Money Bail Act of 2021 will eliminate cash bail. According to Govtrack.us, it has a 3% chance of passing.|
|Allow judges to determine appropriate sentences|
End sentencing disparities between crack and powdered cocaine.
|Repealing federal mandatory minimums, incentivizing states to do the same, and making all sentencing reductions retroactive so judges can reconsider past cases where their hands were tied.||Judges can reconsider past cases where their hands were tied.|
Sentencing decisions are based on the facts of each case, including the severity of the offense and individuals’ circumstances.
|S.2156 Equal Enforcement of Cocaine Laws Act was introduced in June 2021. It has not yet been considered by a committee.|
|??||Abolishing the death penalty.||??||S. 582 Federal Death Penality Prohibition Act was introduced March 2021. it has not yet been considered by a committee.|
|Appoint people to the bench who are committed to seeing justice be served, and treating each case on its merits.||Nominating and confirming federal judges who have diverse backgrounds and experiences, including as public defenders, legal aid attorneys, and civil rights lawyers.||Our courts should reflect our country.||Of the 45 judicial nominees appointed to federal courts so far, 69% are people of color and 75% are women. No president has appointed a higher share of either. |
|Commute sentences of people serving unjust sentences;||Establishing an independent clemency board to ensure an appropriate, effective process for using clemency.||We address systemic racism and other priorities.|
End inappropriate use of clemency.
|HR 6234: FIX Clemency Act was introduced in December 2021. It would create a 9 panel board with at least one ex-con who would review and recommend clemency to the President. This bill has a 2% chance of passing according to GovTrack.us.|
|Ending the use of private prisons and private detention centers;||Private profit does not motivate vital public services.||HR 2021: End For-Profit Prisons Act of 2021 was introduced in December 2021. It has not yet gone to committee. It stands a 3% chance of passing according to GovTrack.us|
|Pursue a holistic approach|
|Ending practices like solitary confinement for adults and juveniles;|
Banning the use of restraints on pregnant federal inmates.
Affording prisoners access to vital medical care and preventing unnecessarily exposed to disease;
Increasing support for programs that provide educational opportunities, including pursuing college degrees, for those in the criminal justice system, both in prison and upon release.
|Imprisoned people are treated humanely.||I found no active bills or resolutions regarding the current rehabilitation of prisoners. However, I did find this archived page reform from 2017. It appears that many of the reforms had been part of Justice Department policy before Biden took office, but were Archived during President Trump’s term.|
|Deepen our commitment to helping those who have|
served their time re-enter society, earn a good living, and participate in our democracy as the full
citizens they are.
|Ensuring access to transitional housing for returning citizens;|
Expanding access to mental health and substance use treatment;
Stopping reincarceration of people for technical violations of probation or parole.
Making it easier for returning citizens to access
work opportunities through the Job Corps.
Opening access to public services, including Pell Grants and nutrition assistance.
Returning citizens their right to vote.
|Criminals are redeemed.||I found no active bills or resolutions regarding the current rehabilitation of prisoners. However, I did find this archived page reform from 2017. It appears that many of the reforms had been part of Justice Department policy before Biden took office, but were Archived during President Trump’s term.|
A lot got done and a lot more got started with hardly any chance of success. And wait a minute… Some things were done and then undone and now are waiting to be done again. Say what?
If you missed my prior State of the Union reviews, here are the links:
This Plank of the Party seemed more difficult than the ones that came before. And now we have high wind advisory, snow, and something called graupel coming our way. Yuk! I’m so glad I had a chance to help CeCe with a classroom full of kindergarteners antsy for Spring Break to start.