I will cast my criminal justice vote for …
There are many issues that bring people to the polls, some more so than others. Foreign policy, the economy, health care, and immigration (to name a few) are all at the forefront this year. However, let us not forget numerous important criminal justice concerns facing our nation. In that arena, I will cast my vote for a candidate who supports:
--- putting America in a prison rehabilitation program to address our destructive, greed-driven, inhumane addictions to prison building and prison filling
--- ending (not just weakly reforming) pathologically punitive drug laws that put hundreds of thousands of non-violent people behind bars for an outrageous number of years
--- creating and expanding comprehensive reentry programs for the thousands of people leaving prison every day to assist them with their economic, familial, social, political, and educational reintegration into society
--- returning the right to vote to every person who has completed his or her prison sentence (including people on parole and probation), and lobbying state-by-state to enfranchise people in prison
--- abolishing the Census Bureau's "usual residence" rule of counting prisoners as residents of the states in which they are incarcerated, advocating instead for counting them as residents of their home communities, thereby returning political power to its rightful place
--- immediately thereafter repealing the Patriot Act, arguably the second-most shameful piece of American legislation in the last half century
--- voiding the contract between Verizon/MCI and the New York State Department of Correctional Services (and others like it across the nation), a monopoly through which the state has made over $200 million off of the families of inmates since 1996 by charging an unconscionable 600% more to them than to everyone else
--- reforming policing strategies by discarding the disruptive and dangerously broad "zero tolerance/Broken windows" approach of "fighting crime" which results in the unnecessary and often unjustified arrest and detention of tens of thousands of people every year in poor communities of color
--- passing a "Charge or Release" bill in New York that would subject the city to civil suits if it fails to bring arrestees before a judge within 24 hours of their arrest barring unforeseeable circumstances
--- ensuring that every state pass a law guaranteeing access to post-conviction DNA testing so that wrongfully convicted people can prove their innocence
--- abolishing capital punishment
I suspect it may be difficult for me to find a candidate on most local or national ballots who shares these views (not to mention stands a chance of winning), but I'll be looking ...
To the voting booths!