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Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.), democratic socialist and member of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D., N.Y.) “squad,” on Thursday released a comprehensive proposal to overhaul America’s criminal justice system.
The plan, according to Pressley’s office, is designed to fix a “racist, xenophobic, rogue, and fundamentally flawed criminal legal system,” replacing it with a system that is “smaller, safer, less punitive, and more humane.” The result is not a legislative proposal, but a resolution that outlines broad goals and lacks concrete details for implementation.
The article goes on to state the following:
Pressley’s proposal goes beyond the criminal justice reform platforms floated by 2020 Democrats—including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), whom Pressley has endorsed and campaigned with. The Pressley plan is perhaps best read as a laundry list of what the left wing of the Democratic Party would implement at the national level, and what local and state-level progressives are already implementing.
Pressley’s website states:
Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), introduced a comprehensive, people-centered, decarceration-focused resolution titled The People’s Justice Guarantee. Congresswoman Pressley’s resolution lays out a bold, new vision for justice in the American criminal legal system. The resolution aims to outline a framework that will transform the U.S. criminal legal system to one that meets America’s foundational yet unfilled promise of justice for all.
Currently, more Americans live in jails and prisons than in Phoenix, Philadelphia, or the state of New Mexico. Additionally, the American criminal legal system is disproportionately decimating Black and brown communities, who unjustly make up 31% of America’s population but 56% of the incarcerated population.
“You cannot have a government for and by the people if it is not represented by all of the people,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “For far too long, those closest to the pain have not been closest to the power, resulting in a racist, xenophobic, rogue, and fundamentally flawed criminal legal system. The People’s Justice Guarantee is the product of a symbiotic partnership with over 20 grassroots organizations and people impacted by the discriminatory policies of our legal system. Our resolution calls for a bold transformation of the status quo – devoted to dismantling injustices so that the system is smaller, safer, less punitive, and more humane.”
The mass incarceration crisis has taken a severe toll on families with an estimated 1 in 2 U.S. adults, including 2.1 million American children, having had an immediate family member spend at least one or more nights in jail. Women, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, and people with disabilities have also been disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system and subjected to the traumatizing effects of practices like solitary confinement. In July, in response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement that they will resume the use of the death penalty for the first time in more than 16 years, Congresswoman Pressley introduced H.R. 4052, legislation to prohibit the use of the death penalty at the federal level and require re-sentencing of those currently on death row. Additionally, she wrote a letter with Congressman Jamie Raskin, Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, to Attorney General Barr and the Bureau of Prisons demanding answers on plans to resume the use of the death penalty.
The People’s Justice Guarantee lays out the framework needed to create a fair, equitable, and just criminal legal system and emphasizes the need for a participatory “peoples process” as a critical aspect of effective policy-making. Ultimately, the resolution calls to substantially reduce the number of people incarcerated and transform the purpose and experience of the criminal legal system.
The People’s Justice Guarantee was developed in collation with several grassroots organizations, advocates, and individuals including: National Immigration Law Center, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Immigrant Defense Project, UndocuBlack Network, KNOW YOUR SMOKE, Inner City Weightlifting, Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College, African-American Coalition Committee of MCI-Norfolk, SAW youth program, Janelle Ridley, and United We Dream.
Congresswoman Pressley’s resolution is based on 5 guiding principles:
The People’s Justice Guarantee enlists a participatory people’s process – through assemblies, town halls, listening sessions, and workshops ─ to ensure that communities directly impacted by mass incarceration and historical oppression will be active partners in achieving true justice, freedom and safety for all.
The People’s Justice Guarantee calls for a significant reduction of the U.S. prison population by promoting policies at the federal, state, and local levels to support mass decarceration and repealing failed policies of the war on drugs and 1994 crime bill. Prison should be a last resort, not the first stop.
The People’s Justice Guarantee calls for equal justice under the law by abolishing private prison, jail, and immigrant detention contracts; bail bondsmen; and other prison profit-making mechanisms such as telecommunications and health care that rake in billions of dollars at the expense of incarcerated people.
The People’s Justice Guarantee seeks to disrupt the over-policing, criminalization and presumption of guilt among vulnerable groups – such as people of color, women, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community. These communities disproportionately come in contact with the criminal legal system and the People’s Justice Guarantee aims to break the cycles of violence and discrimination that lead to it.
The People’s Justice Guarantee uplifts the humanity and dignity of all people by challenging the underlying racism, criminalization, dehumanization and oppression that define the U.S. criminal legal system.
The People’s Justice Guarantee pledges to create a more just and equal society by reimagining safety and dismantling discriminatory aspects of the current criminal injustice system. Amongst other things, the People’s Justice Guarantee calls for:
- Dramatically Reducing Jail and Prison Populations by
- Expanding access to restorative justice and diversion programs
- Decriminalizing consensual sex work and low-level offenses, which are byproducts of poverty, homelessness, discrimination and/or addiction
- Ending the death penalty, including life sentences without the possibility of parole, which effectively function as “death by incarceration”
- Capping sentences, for all crimes, particularly those that do no cause serious harm
- Transforming the Experience of Confinement by
- Ending solitary confinement
- Expanding visitation
- Allowing trans people to be housed in accordance with their chosen gender identity
- Providing high-quality, trauma-informed, and culturally-responsive mental and physical health care (including substance- use therapy, hormone therapy, and mental health treatment)
- Increases vocational and educational access, including Pell Grants, and ends the use of forced labor
- Eliminating Wealth-Based Discrimination and Corporate Profiteering by
- Prohibiting private companies from profiting off of incarceration and immigrant detention
- Relieving people in poverty of the unfair debt burdens by ending the use of money bail and the imposition of unaffordable fines and fees – ceasing the practice of charging people for their own supervision and banning incarceration for debt alone
- Supporting a just transition for returning citizens, including policies that remove restrictions to employment and public services such as housing, education assistance, and voting
- Investing in Impacted Communities by
- Ending the transfer of military equipment to local police and refocusing resources to dramatically increase clearance (or solve) rates for the most serious crimes – shootings, homicides, domestic and sexual violence
- Limiting firearm production and sales
- Eliminating qualified immunity and establishing standards on use of force, de-escalation, and crisis intervention training including the designation of a non-911 number for dispatch of crisis and trauma intervention teams
To get more information about this article, please visit FreeBeacon.