Posted by 19 August 2019
Ideas to reform the criminal justice system have been embraced by both Democratic and Republican politicians. Now Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist running for the Democratic presidential nomination, is announcing a crime plan that pushes the limits of the bipartisan consensus for reform.
Here are some of the proposals that Sen. Sanders is championing:
- Legalizing marijuana
- Expunging records for those convicted of marijuana-related offenses
- Prohibiting private prisons
- Ending cash bail
- Re-instating parole
- Expanding youth diversion programs and alternatives to incarceration
- Ending civil asset forfeiture
- Legalizing safe injection sites for drug users
In addition, Sanders wants to create a “prisoner’s bill of rights” and require a federal investigation every time a prisoner dies in police custody.
These ideas would re-shape the federal prison system in ways that Sen. Sanders hopes would cut the prison population in half and address what he sees as institutional racism in the system. The proposal would only affect the federal prison system, however. States would still operate their own systems for non-federal crimes.
Sen. Sanders’s criminal justice proposal differentiates him from some of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sen. Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor and California Attorney General, has come under attack for her tactics in those offices. Former Vice President Joe Biden has also faced criticism for his votes on criminal justice issues during his time as senator.
Do you think that marijuana should be legalized? Should cash bail be banned? Is it a good idea for the federal government to re-instate parole?