Crime is real. Living in Chicago it is common to hear gunshots and you can always confirm what is happening on the Citizens' app. Some of the crimes around my area are carjackings, brandishing of weapons for robbery, stabbings, and shootings. It can happen to anyone of us. So the fine balance will always be between justice on one hand, and smart-policing and our crime-fighting ability on the other.
In the wake of George Floyd's death and countless other deaths through police brutality, we do need reform. The most important thing we can do is to understand that a lot of these issues are very local and intertwined with inequality, concentrated poverty, institutional racism, and pro-crime bias, resulting in a system that is set for racial profiling and pro-prosecution. Unfortunately, historically the role of the U.S. police has always been defined by economics and politics evolving to emphasize efficiency and crime-fighting. The social work aspect of policing in the USA became discouraged.
Let's be hones: no one wants to live in a police state. For example, in Scotland (U.K.), calming a situation through talk and psychology is the primary tool and 98% of their officers don't carry guns. Mental-health aspects of policing are rising in popularity across the nation and for a good reason: addiction is a serious issue and mental-health responders can ease situations. We need better trained-policing methods. There's also a popular push to achieve such a "social model" through community policing, but it's difficult to achieved in America with our police's paramilitary culture. And community policing can be used as a means to rebuild the legitimacy of a discredited police force and then easily be transformed into arrest-based, iron-fisted policing with various case-studies to prove this.
1. Create disincentives for the police to use "excessive force" by changing the mens rea standard for Federal Prosecution of excessive force. Special and independent prosecutors should be taking the lead in such prosecutions.
2. Place conditions on Federal Funding to enact human-centered local police reform and training.
Crime is real and can be deadly and we cannot lose sight of our crime-fighting ability. So we need to support better-trained officers to solve crimes, but at the same time have more accountable police forces (i.e. body-worn cameras, banning chokeholds, ending qualified immunity in cases of excessive force, banning no-knock warrants).
Across the aisle, we agree on reducing the prison population. We incarcerate more people than any other nation in the world, in both absolute numbers and per capita (according to reported statistics). We have the world’s largest prison population – with 25% of its prisoners, but just 5% of the world's total population. They happen to be disproportionately black. First, we must reduce sentences for non-violent drug crimes and legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana on the national level. By looking at history, it was big interests that made marijuana illegal and the political rhetoric used back then was racist associating marijuana use with immigrants and minorities.
We must also end all mandatory minimums and reinstate the federal system of parole (returning discretion to judges and parole boards.)
Also, there is no reason why after an arrest — wrongful or not — a person’s ability to leave jail and return home to fight the charges depends on money in non-violent offenses. A poor person will not be able to leave local jails. We must re-define cash bail (i.e. cash bail only when the accused is a flight risk.) The Bail Bond Industry is a billion dollar industry!
All private prisons and detention centers should be eliminated for inhumane reasons; prisoners at private prisons can make 4 cents an hour. At state-run prisons they can make over a dollar. The conditions at private prisons rate far worse than public prisons and there are significant safety concerns.
I am a proponent of re-enfranchising the right to vote those who have had their vote taken away by a felony conviction. After paying their debt to society, by serving time, rights should be restored to that individual, like in other Western Democracies.
We must also abolish the death penalty.
We must seriously reform civil asset forfeitures.
We must start to rethink on how we treat "human caging." To further address systemic racism and transform our system, we must also be addressing inequality, and most importantly concentrated poverty, as a top issue alongside comprehensive justice reform.