CRIMINAL JUSTICE

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Too many of our peers are expected to be dead or in jail before they are 25, and many internalize this expectation for themselves. We see evidence all around us that this is what happens in our neighborhoods when young men and women fall off track. It appears that the pipeline to prison has been well laid. We need young people to have ways to break this cycle. The improvements listed above in the public schools will help break that pipeline. In addition we support the following:

  • A renewed effort to build collaborative community commitment to safety and crime prevention by:
    • Engaging churches and community centers in supporting children and youth
    • Providing mental health and grief counseling for children and youth who have lost friends and family members through violence
    • Highlighting positive role models in the neighborhood
    • Rebuilding relationships and communication between the police and the community so residents can trust police and work with them
    • Making sure police are actually policing the hot spots instead of ignor­ing them
    • Training police in community relationships, sensitivity, and not stereo­typing young men of color and communities of color
    • Creating safe routes for children to get to school, and safe playgrounds
    • Bringing back activity programs like the Police Athletic League
    • Encouraging residents to take responsibility for correcting each other
    • Making sure young people and all residents are aware of the laws and the consequences of various types of action; new laws should be publi­cized widely
       
  • The elimination of unfair sentencing
    • Juveniles should not be sentenced as adults
    • Black, Hispanic, and Native American individuals should not be sub­ject to more severe sentences than white individuals who committed a similar crime
    • Mandatory sentences should be eliminated, “three strikes you’re out laws” reversed, and judges should have more discretion to recognize the potential of offenders to benefit from alternatives to incarceration
       
  • Second chances for youthful offenders to rebuild their lives
    • Create pathways other than incarceration for lesser offenses
    • Provide high quality education and group reflection behind the walls
    • Provide re-entry programs smoothing the path to employment, educa­tion, and community service
    • Allow for expunging records
    • Allow ex-offenders to submit their achievements to the criminal history systems bank so that potential employers can see not only the criminal record but the subsequent positive actions
    • Do not permanently deny offenders the right to public housing, voting, scholarships, running for office, and the like
       
  • Stop expanding the for-profit prison system. We do not believe that some people should have a financial stake in other people being incarcerated

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