Criminal Justice Reform

Addressing Institutional Racism

There has long been evidence of judicial misconduct and prejudice against minorities accused of crimes. As a country, we must remain vigilant in efforts to fight racism in our justice system. Racism will not be solved by one piece of legislation, but by a commitment to a cultural shift in the United States of America. Friends of Intelligent Democracy supports any effort, governmental or nongovernmental to reduce racial bias and discrimination within the criminal justice system.

Law Enforcement & Police Brutality

There is a long history of mistrust between law enforcement and different communities within American society. Friends of Intelligent Democracy supports the Black Lives Matter movement and efforts to “Defund the Police” by reallocating police department funding to local social services and communities. Any American, regardless of their race, gender identity, religion, or sexual orientation, should feel safe and comfortable during an interaction with any law enforcement officer. Friends of Intelligent Democracy supports:

  • ● Working with federal and state agencies to provide every police officer with a body camera.
  • ● Mandating de-escalation training and prioritizing arrests without the use of lethal force in police academy curriculum.
  • ● Testing every rape kit and prohibiting states from discarding any kit related to an open case.
  • ● Requiring that local police departments communicate every report of suspicious activity that could lead to mass shootings to the FBI.
  • ● Creating a department within the Department of Justice that investigates cases of police misconduct.
  • ● Increasing funding for social workers and trained professionals to respond to situations involving mental health, domestic violence, child abuse and other areas not best suited to police. 
  • ● Drastically reducing the police budgets of cities and towns across the country and prioritize community relationships and civil rights. 
  • ● Banning fatal police choke holds like those used on George Floyd and other victims of police murder.
  • ● Banning the sale of surplus military equipment to police departments. 
  • ● Ending the practice of “no knock” warrants. 
  • ● Abolishing police unions.
  • ● Ending the ability of police officers from one department to transfer to  another department following a case of suspected police brutality or misuse of power.
  • ● Charging police officers who deactivate or cover their body cameras during any arrest with “obstruction of justice” and “tampering with evidence”.
  • ● Making body camera footage of any officer publicly available to those that request it free of charge.

Cannabis Legalization

The Reagan-era drug war on cannabis that overtly targeted underprivileged communities must come to an end. Now that there is data supporting claims that cannabinoids have positive medical benefits, the time has come to legalize cannabis. Legal cannabis sales generate millions in state tax revenue and legalization ensures that cannabis can be used safely under government supervision. Friends of Intelligent Democracy supports:

  • ● Legalizing and decriminalizing cannabis nationwide.
  • ● Expunging previous marijuana possession charges.
  • ● Releasing current inmates imprisoned on marijuana possession charges. If an inmate is imprisoned on more than one charge such as marijuana possession and a DUI, an inmate must still serve the time for the other charge(s).
  • ● Taxing marijuana sales on the state level and requiring said tax revenue be used to fund after-school programs and rehabilitation centers and invest in low-income and minority neighborhoods that have been targeted by mass incarceration and the War on Drugs.
  • ● Expanding licensing programs to increase the number of dispensaries and other facilities across the country with policies to ensure that licenses are given out in an equitable manner.
  • ● Preventing banks from denying business loans to legal marijuana facilities because a bank does not support legal cannabis.
  • ● Supporting mandates that require a percentage of revenue from legal cannabis shops and cafes be re-invested in communities of color, low-income communities, and anti-gentrification projects.

Prison System Reforms

While it is the responsibility of the government to enforce the law against those who break it, this responsibility can be done with dignity. The punishment and rehabilitation of people that break the law should be done with respect towards the imprisoned. Friends of Intelligent Democracy supports:

  • ● Restoring voting rights to released felons and allowing absentee ballots to the currently imprisoned for the precinct in which they were registered before incarceration.
  • ● Ensuring all prisoners have access to free reproductive care including access to pre- and post-natal care, abortions, STI and HIV/AIDS tests and treatment.
  • ● Banning the practice of prisoners giving birth while shackled.
  • ● Enacting the reforms of the FIRST STEP Act signed into law at the beginning of 2019.
  • ● Increasing access to rehabilitation centers as an alternate means of corrective action.
  • ● Increasing the use of rehabilitative programs such as vocational training and substance abuse treatment services.
  • ● Ending the practice of holding juveniles in adult prisons or in solitary confinement.
  • ● Reforming the 13th Amendment to remove the clause that states slavery and indentured servitude may still be used “​as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
  • ● Requiring prisoners to be paid minimum wage for any work they do to allow them to have savings once they are out of prison, so they are able to have an easier transition back to regular life.

Ending Cash Bail

Cash bail is essentially a form of wage discrimination that allows the upper class to avoid jail time while awaiting trial. This flawed program introduced a vein of inequality into the justice system that few states have tried to rectify. Friends of Intelligent Democracy supports:

  • ● Ending the practice of cash bail programs.
  • ● Replacing cash bail with risk assessment practices that authorize pretrial release based on factors such as not showing up for court, previous charges and if the accused remains a danger to others.

Ending Private Prisons

Private prisons have only one motive: profit. They have no incentive to promote justice or rehabilitation to those incarcerated, only to profitably house them. This is often done with little to no respect for the overall well-being of the prisoners and this conflict of interest creates a lack of accountability. Friends of Intelligent Democracy supports:

  • ● Banning private prisons.
  • ● Closing existing facilities or transferring them to federal or state agencies.

Immigration Reform

Friends of Intelligent Democracy is focused on espousing responsible and compassionate immigration policy that benefits humanity as a whole. Friends of Intelligent Democracy is passionate about fighting discriminatory and nativist immigration policies and advocating for those who are unable to protect themselves. Ultimately, we hope to bridge the gap between politics and people and develop responsible policies for the betterment of our country and all its residents. Friends of Intelligent Democracy supports:

  • ● Protecting working immigrants from abuse and harassment in the workplace.
  • ● Creating and expanding grant programs to allow for pro bono legal representation for immigrants who are being taken advantage of in the workplace.
  • ● Creating paths to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented immigrants that shorten the timeline for citizenship.
  • ● Banning the practice of family separation and closing all noncriminal detention facilities along the Southern border. 
  • ● Strengthening the Fair Labor Standards Act to protect immigrant workers.
  • ● Granting citizenship to every DACA recipient.
  • ● Restructuring ICE into an organization that focuses on deporting violent criminals rather than working families.
  • ● Requiring every immigrant be provided legal representation and a translator in every court hearing.
  • ● Requiring ICE agents properly approach detaining deportees without violating the constitutional rights of residents.
  • ● Rewriting asylum laws that make it easier for immigrants and their families facing crises in their home countries to be allowed into the United States.
  • ● Allowing for third party human rights violations investigations into ICE and DHS immigrant detention facilities.
  • ● Revoking Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban”.
  • ● Reworking the J-1, H-1B, and H-1B1 visa programs to streamline immigration to the United States and allowing students to easily find jobs out of college without having to worry about employer sponsorship. 

Mandatory Minimums & Sentencing Discrepancies

Today in the United States, there is not the “Equal Justice Under Law” that is carved into the Supreme Court. Laws have been crafted to create the mass incarceration problem we have today that unfairly targets people of color. Friends of Intelligent Democracy supports repealing mandatory minimum laws and other statutes that seek to prosecute racial groups differently for the same or similar crimes.

Abolishing the Death Penalty

Time and time again, innocent people have been killed under death penalty policies that are also more expensive then the government execution process. Friends of Intelligent Democracy supports federal action to ban the death penalty in the United States. 

Removing Barriers to Reentry

Every year 600,000 people are released from incarceration and struggle with adjustment. The release of these individuals should mean they are fully reformed in the eyes of the law and should be treated as such, but this is not the case. The time spent imprisoned means a loss in applicable skills, and there is a large distrust in the hiring of ex-offenders, implying a distrust in the justice system. Friends of Intelligent Democracy supports the removal of the barriers of employment through removing bias towards ex-offenders and by improving workplace preparedness for prisoners.

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