Bernie Sanders Unveils Sweeping Criminal Justice Reform Plan

The pro­pos­al aims to cut the nation’s prison pop­u­la­tion in half and end manda­to­ry min­i­mum sen­tenc­ing.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Bernie Sanders is propos­ing a crim­i­nal jus­tice over­haul that aims to cut the nation’s prison pop­u­la­tion in half, end manda­to­ry min­i­mum sen­tenc­ing, ban pri­vate pris­ons and legal­ize mar­i­jua­na. He says the cur­rent sys­tem does not fair­ly treat peo­ple of col­or, addicts or the men­tal­ly ill.
“We have a sys­tem that impris­ons and destroys the lives of mil­lions of peo­ple,” Sanders told The Associated Press before the planned released of his pro­pos­al Sunday. “It’s racist in dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect­ing the African American and Latino com­mu­ni­ties, and it’s a sys­tem that needs fun­da­men­tal change.”

Sanders was pro­mot­ing the plan dur­ing a week­end of cam­paign­ing in South Carolina, where the major­i­ty of the Democratic elec­torate is African American. The Vermont sen­a­tor, who won the sup­port of some younger black Democrats dur­ing the 2016 pri­ma­ry, has stepped up his ref­er­ences to racial dis­par­i­ties, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing stops in the South and urban areas.
As pres­i­dent, Sanders said he would abol­ish manda­to­ry min­i­mum sen­tenc­ing and rein­state a fed­er­al parole sys­tem, end the “three strikes law” and expand the use of alter­na­tive sen­tenc­ing, includ­ing com­mu­ni­ty super­vi­sion and halfway hous­es. The goal is to reduce the prison pop­u­la­tion by one-half.
“A very sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of peo­ple who are behind bars today are deal­ing with one form or anoth­er of ill­ness,” Sanders said. “These should be treat­ed as health issues, not from a crim­i­nal per­spec­tive.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness , 2 mil­lion peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness are booked into jails annu­al­ly.
Taking aim at what his pro­pos­al calls “for-prof­it prison prof­i­teer­ing,” Sanders would ban pri­vate pris­ons, make prison phone calls and oth­er inmate com­mu­ni­ca­tions free, and audit prison com­mis­saries for price goug­ing and fees.
The plan would legal­ize mar­i­jua­na and expunge pre­vi­ous mar­i­jua­na con­vic­tions, and end a cash bail sys­tem that Sanders says keeps hun­dreds of thou­sands who have not been con­vict­ed of a crime lan­guish­ing in jail because they can­not afford bail.
“Can you believe that, in the year 2019, 400,000 peo­ple are in jail await­ing a tri­al because they are poor?” Sanders said. “That is a moral out­rage, it is a legal out­rage.”
According to the Prison Policy Initiative , more than 460,000 peo­ple are being held in local jails around the coun­try while they await tri­al, with a medi­an bail amount of $10,000 for felony offens­es.

Sanders wants to improve rela­tions between law enforce­ment agen­cies and the com­mu­ni­ties they serve. To do that, he pro­pos­es to end fed­er­al pro­grams that pro­vide mil­i­tary equip­ment to local police forces, estab­lish fed­er­al stan­dards for the use of body cam­eras, pro­vide bias train­ing and require that the Justice Department review all offi­cer-involved shoot­ings.
“You have a lot of resent­ment in minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties all over this coun­try, who see police forces not as an asset but as an invad­ing force,” Sanders said.
On cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment, Sanders’ plan for­mal­izes his call to end the fed­er­al death penal­ty and urges states to elim­i­nate the pun­ish­ment as well.
“When we talk about vio­lence in soci­ety and try­ing to low­er the lev­els of vio­lence, it is not appro­pri­ate that the state itself is part of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment,” Sanders said.
Sanders said that over the long term, his plan will save the pub­lic mon­ey because of reduc­tions to over­all incar­cer­a­tion costs.
“It will cost mon­ey but it will pay for itself many, many times over,” Sanders said. “Locking peo­ple up is very, very expen­sive.”
Story, orig­i­nat­ed here; https://​www​.huff​post​.com/​e​n​t​r​y​/​b​e​r​n​i​e​-​s​a​n​d​e​r​s​-​c​r​i​m​i​n​a​l​-​j​u​s​t​i​c​e​_​n​_​5​d​5​9​6​8​8​c​e​4​b​0​d​8​8​4​0​f​f​4​c​011