Criminal Justice

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CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

From mass incarceration to police shootings and killings and all the way to our court system of convicting officers' wrong doing, there is must needed room for criminal justice reform. Public trust into our police departments have deteriorated over the years especially with the use of cell phone videos and body cameras. The thing is, the excessive and deadly force used by the police have always been there, the cameras have not. The distrust is valid because many people including the African American and Latinx community have been unjustly targeted and sometimes end up dead even for the smallest of issues like a traffic stop. The sad part is that when the officers do get charged with murder or manslaughter, most of the time they never get convicted.

In Los Angeles, 2016 was the 2nd year in a ROW that Los Angeles had the most officer-involved killings of civilians. The LAPD have killed 19 civilians, including the youngest in LA, 14-year old Jesse Romero of Boyle Heights. This only concludes once again that the LAPD uses lethal force at a higher rate than other police departments in the nation even though other higher crime areas like New York and Chicago have lesser officer-involved killings of civilians.

From the National spotlights of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose, Philando Castile, to the local spotlights of Ezell Ford, Wakiesha Wilson, Jose Mendez and Jesse Romero, it is clear that there must be criminal justice reform.

 

WE MUST:

  • Hold police officers accountable. We need Civilian & Police Review boards in local communities to control their police and make sure they’re being held accountable for any related police incidents resulting in death or bodily harm to individuals whether by accident or on purpose.

  • Increase police training length. In some European countries, police training can go up to 3 years so that police can have ample time to learn to better understand, communicate with and calm distraught individuals. US police academies provided an average of 19 weeks of classroom instruction. We must also focus on increased training on de-escalation techniques instead of using deadly force.

  • Demilitarize our police forces so that they don’t look and act like they are going to war with our own citizens.

  • Have mandatory community policing requirements of proportional representation where police officers look and act like the people in the communities they are supposed to protect and serve.

  • Ensure that mental health patients who call law enforcement for help will be treated as medical patients, not criminals. In addition, we need to invest in medical and mental help programs to deal with those having substance abuse issues. We should be treating them from a health perspective, not a criminal perspective.

  • End the school to prison pipeline. Invest more on youth jobs and education, not jails and incarceration.

  • End the war on drugs that target people of color disproportionately than white people. In addition, we need to take marijuana off the federal government's list of outlawed drugs / the DEA's Schedule 1 drug list where Heroin is on that same list.

  • End for-profit prisons which have led to mass incarceration and the highest level of prisoners in the world (over 2 million prisoners) compared to any other country. 

  • Eliminate mandatory minimums which we have seen negatively affect tougher sentencing for black people than white people. According to the Yale Law Journal, black men were nearly twice as likely to be charged with an offense that carried a mandatory minimum sentence than white men facing similar circumstances. Judges historically have selected longer and tougher sentences for blacks even if they have the same criminal history as whites.

  • Evaluate our current laws regarding the "use of lethal force" to ensure that those police officers who are in the wrong of unjustly killing people are indicted AND convicted. There is an overwhelming number of police shootings each year that ended up as "justifiable" in the eyes of the law however, when we see instances like what happened to Walter Scott who was shot 3 times in the back while running away or Eric Garner who was choked to death even though his hands were up and there was large presence of police officers around, it begs to question, what must you do to get an indictment or a conviction? There is too much leeway for officers who get away using lethal force, there must be reform. 

 

We understand that police officers have a stressful job to protect and serve the community, and there are good ones out there, but the community does not feel that way especially with the way things have been going over the past couple of years especially now that we have cell phone cameras. People are afraid of police officers especially, the Latinx and African American community, and they have reason to be.

Not only has our criminal justice system failed communities of color but also the system we have in place has failed them when it comes to access to quality education, healthcare, affordable housing, and a decent paying job. With the lack thereof leading to desperate times calling for desperate measure in this cold world.

With that being said, #BlackLivesMatter and #BrownLivesMatter. 

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  • commented 2017-04-01 16:59:39 -0700
    Part of Police Academy training needs to include a unit on mental illness and associated behaviors, with annual reviews of the material. There should be a nationwide mandate for individual jurisdictions to maintain a database of civilian complaints against police abuse, as is done in Chicago with the Citizens Police Data Project, https://cpdb.co/data/DyVKPe/citizens-police-data-project. This could make it easier to fire “bad cops”. I believe in the need for a robust labor movement, but some of the police unions have become far too powerful, with an entrenched culture of brutality. This is an area that merits a critical look.
  • published this page in Issues 2017-02-08 14:06:30 -0800