Politics

Bernie Sanders Announces Criminal Justice Reform Proposals

| by Ethan Brown

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has unveiled a strategy to combat racial inequality in the criminal justice system just one day after a campaign stop in Seattle, Washington, was forced to shut down due to members of the Black Lives Matter movement overriding his speech.

The policy proposals were posted on the Vermont senator’s website on Aug. 9 and use the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Sandra Bland, among others, to explain his points.

“African Americans are twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police,” Sanders wrote on his website.

Sanders called for a “societal transformation” to end racism in the U.S. and listed his points. In his first point, Sanders supports the demilitarization of the police forces around the country so “they don’t look and act like invading armies.” He also called for the increasing in “community policing,” or having law enforcement working in neighborhoods.

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In terms of federal law, Sanders said the federal government needs to “fund and require body cameras for law enforcement officers to make it easier to hold them accountable.” Many critics have said body cameras need to be apparent for the officer’s safety as well, as perpetrators may threaten the officer’s life or put the officer in harm’s way.

Sanders also said the U.S. Justice Department needs to “aggressively investigate and prosecute police officers” who are charged with a murder. In many instances, this has happened, such as in the case of Officer Darren Wilson, who was not charged with any crime after the death of Michael Brown due to a lack of evidence, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The self-described democratic socialist also supports expanding the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to allow any convicted felons to vote. He also supported the idea of making Election Day a federal holiday “to increase voters’ ability to participate.”

In the presidential election, Sanders is seen as the strongest threat to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the nomination. In a recent poll of New Hampshire Democrats, Clinton was ahead of Sanders by only 6 percent, which was also the poll's margin of error.

Sources: Bernie Sanders, CNN / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons