Progressive Groups Demand that Joe Biden Cut the Prison Population in Half and institute federal gun licensing program to cut gun deaths

Apr 12, 2020 | Featured

Eight progressive groups have sent a letter to presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden demanding that he make policy changes before they will agree to vote for him this year (Alliance for Youth Action, Justice Democrats, IfNotNow Movement, March for Our Lives Action Fund, NextGen America, Student Action, Sunrise Movement, and United We Dream Action).

Beyond their demands regarding climate change and immigration, they have specific proposals dealing with crime.

  • “Incentivize states to cut their incarcerated population by 50 percent while supporting massive investment in housing, drug treatment, diversion, education and health programs. End the War on Drugs and support the equitable legalization of marijuana…”
  • Take an intersectional, comprehensive approach to preventing gun violence with the goal of reducing gun deaths by 50% in ten years. In addition to the policies laid out in your plan, you should also include the following from the Peace Plan for a Safer America: call for a federal licensing program; hold the gun industry accountable by directing the IRS to probe the NRA’s non-profit status. Expand federal funding and resources for community based violence intervention programs. Adopt Julian Castro’s People First Policing Plan and acknowledge that police brutality is gun violence.

The notion that you can reduce prison populations by releasing people who are in jail for marijuana simply isn’t serious. Take Arizona as an example. In June 2017, there were 41,935 in the Arizona prison system. Prisoners incarcerated for any type of drug offense amounted to 22.2% of prisoners, but 12.2% of the total were there for dangerous drug violations. Just 4.3% were there for any type of marijuana violation. Only 393 admissions between July 2015 and June 2017 were there for marijuana possession, and those who were put in prison for that were there because they had been convicted multiple times in the past.

In state prisons, nationwide 15% are in prison for drug-related charges. By contrast, 51% are there for violent crime (murder 14%, rape or sexual assault 13%, robbery 13%, aggravated or simple assault 11%). Another 9% are there for burglary.

As to the wasting of resources on licensing and gun registration, see a detailed discussion here.

The advocates of this want to claim that you can have dramatic reductions in the number of people incarcerated without any impact on crime rates.

GROSS: So you’ve reduced the inmate population in the San Francisco jail by about 40%, and I think the number is now approximately, like, 750, 760, something like that. What did you do to reduce the population?

BOUDIN: … One of the things that’s interesting that we found in this process, Terry, is that it is, in fact, possible to safely and quickly decarcerate. We found a lot of people who, it turns out, shouldn’t have really been incarcerated in the first place. For example, we had a mother who was conserved and was simply waiting for placement in an appropriate mental health facility. We were able to get her placement expedited rather than having her wait in jail for months on end, as is often the case. We had another young woman with a high-risk pregnancy with no criminal record, who was in jail on a misdemeanor. With our reentry partners, we were able to get that expecting mother into a prenatal care facility where she can stay safely until her birth.

Those are the kinds of people that make me wonder whether we were doing enough before this epidemic to reduce the jail population and to reduce our reliance on incarceration as a first response to so many of our social problems.

If putting people in prison doesn’t deter criminals, one wonders what the point of police is. Do they want to get rid of police? Incidentally, the parents of the San Francisco DA Boudin were in prison for murdering two police officers and a guard in “botched armed robbery of a Brink’s truck.”

johnrlott

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