Criminal Justice Reform
In light of recent events, our campaign believed it to be critical to release our criminal justice platform in solidarity with the black community in hopes we can make a change together. First, let us get some truths out of the way. Racism still exists in America, racist police tactics exist, and racism is rampant and fuels the criminal justice system. America as a whole is the largest penal colony in the world with 25% of the world’s prison population, totaling over 2 million human beings behind bars. Drastic change is needed to bring justice back to the criminal justice system. Here is my campaign’s list of necessary reforms:
End Mandatory Minimums
Mandatory minimums were emplaced to deter crime and enact harsh punishments on criminals. However, this system has been twisted to help create our current system of mass incarceration. These mandatory minimums sentences usually apply to drug and gun offenses but end up locking up thousands of disproportionately minority Floridians in prison for minor or non-violent crimes. Mandatory minimums take sentencing power away from judges and create a one size fits all system preventing proportional sentencing. According to the American Bar Association, mandatory minimums violate a human’s basic right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment as well as disproportionately targeting black and brown communities. We must abolish mandatory minimums and retroactively release non-violent prisoners back into society.
Abolish Private Prisons
Private prisons were created as a solution to the cost of mass incarceration but have since come to symbolize all that is wrong with our criminal justice system. First of all, private prisons fuel mass incarceration. When created, private prisons force local municipalities to keep a certain percentage of their beds filled with bodies, incentivizing more arrests. Private prisons also lobby local, state, and national governments for hard on crime legislation (Mandatory minimums, drug criminalization, and three-strike laws) and as an industry spend millions on lobbying and campaign contributions per year. Private prisons also raise the cost of incarceration because of their profit incentive. Private prisons by definition have a perverse profit incentive. Private prisons make money by having bodies in their beds. In order to make more money, private prisons must have more bodies in their beds. Therefore, they lobby to increase the number of bodies going to prison, therefore, increasing private prison profits. Private prisons also are notoriously more dangerous than public prisons. Private prison guards are paid and trained less leading to a higher turnover rate. Leaving thousands of newly half-trained prison guards to run overcrowded prisons. Leading to an increase in prisoner on prisoner violence, guard on prisoner violence, and prisoner on guard violence all of which are unacceptable and preventable. We must abolish private prisons.
Holding Police Accountable
It has become increasingly obvious since the intentional murder of George Floyd and subsequent mass protests across the country, that the police in our country are out of control and almost completely held unaccountable. As a nation, we have watched police run over protesters in NYC and LA, mace/pepper spray non-violent protestors, use less-than-lethal crowd control tools (Tear gas and rubber bullets) on peaceful protestors, shoot people’s eyes out with rubber bullets, beat people with batons in broad daylight, go undercover and destroy local businesses to incite riots, and tear-gas children in Seattle. Unequivocally, our campaign stands against police murder, brutality, and abuse of power.
We must do better in bringing criminal cops to justice. As Floridians we must demand:
- An independent special investigator to investigate all police shootings
- Automatic negligence charges brought against police precincts who knowingly hire cops with violent records
- Require police to provide name, badge number, complaint instructions before carrying out a search
- Empower citizen complaints.
- Require body cameras on law enforcement at all times
- Undergo yearly grading and reform recommendations of police forces statewide.
End Cash Bail
Cash bail is a classist policy that is designed to fill jails with impoverished people who have not been convicted of a crime. In the US over 500 million people sit in jail simply for the crime of being poor in America. This is unacceptable. How can we call ourselves the land of the free when we arbitrarily imprison 500 million people. Innocent people, usually minorities, sit in jail for days, weeks, months, maybe even years at a time for un-convicted crimes. Entire lives are thrown into disarray as jobs are lost, families are torn apart, homes are taken away, cars reposed, etc…
Floridians deserve to live in a state that helps lift people out of poverty. Not lock them in jail because of it. Unsurprisingly, the US is one of only two nations worldwide to have a legal bail bond industry to allow companies to profit off of incarceration. Cash bail must be abolished and replaced with a merit-based system on the person of interest’s flight risk, danger to the community, and caretaking/familial responsibilities rather than their bank accounts. This system must be retroactive to people currently in jail. Furthermore, we must wipe the record/pardon any innocent person forced to plead guilty to a crime they did not commit, after a case review.
Abolish the Death Penalty
The death penalty has a long and dark history in Florida. The death penalty, historically, has been used disproportionately to kill black Floridians. Usually, in conjunction with lynchings also known as mob killings of black people back during the Jim Crow Era. During Jim Crow, rape was punishable by death in Florida. Meaning that hundreds of black men were murdered by the state solely based on the good word of racist white people. This is all meant to say that the death penalty has been notorious for its racist enforcement in the past and sadly this trend has not changed over time.
Moreover, our criminal justice is not perfect and never could be, meaning that we cannot ensure that 100% of people on death row are truly guilty. Nationally, it is estimated that 4% of people on death row are innocent. A moral society cannot, in good faith, have the death penalty knowing the inevitability of murdering an innocent human being.
End Solitary Confinement
Solitary confinement is a barbaric tactic still used in prisons that must be eliminated. In the US there are about 61,000 people in solitary confinement at any given time. 10,000 of which are in Florida. People in solitary spend 23 hours of the day completely alone in a cell roughly the size of an elevator. This violates prisoners’ right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment. Long term effects of solitary confinement include anxiety, panic, rage, paranoia, hallucinations, and suicide. In short, solitary confinement is torture. Our campaign is unequivocally against torture and so should the state of Florida.