Former Housing and Urban Improvement Secretary Julián Castro proposed a criminal justice strategy pledging that if he is elected president he will legalize marijuana, expunge prior cannabis convictions and invest in communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition.
The “First Opportunity Program,” released on Wednesday, is made to take a preventative strategy to persons getting into the criminal justice technique when also supplying sources for these who’ve currently been incarcerated. The 2020 Democratic candidate pointed to the war on drugs as an instance of a policy that “became a siege against persons who are poor, the most vulnerable men and women, and the most marginalized communities.”
“Today additional than two million persons are incarcerated, and additional than half a million people are locked up for non-violent drug offenses, disproportionately young African American and Latino guys,” he stated. “The human expenses are staggering: households torn apart, billions wasted in taxpayer dollars, and the lost prospective of a generation.”
My #FirstChance Program:
✔️Justice for Communities of Colour
✔󾃾nd Police Violence
✔️Legalize Marijuana, Expunge Records
✔�olish the Death Penalty
✔�ir Trials for All
✔️Heal The Wounds of Mass Incarceration https://t.co/dvXzJekckt
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) October 23, 2019
Castro stated punitive federal drug laws, like the 1994 crime bill that one more candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, played a top function in enacting, have “enabled the more than-policing of communities of colour, making a technique of mass incarceration and a much less just nation.”
To right the issue, addiction should really be treated like a public well being problem, Castro stated. Treating the issue via the criminal justice technique has “shattered communities, strengthened criminal groups, and locked up these who did not deserve it.”
Although not explicitly endorsing the decriminalization of drug possession as some other candidates have, Castro is calling to “end the War on Drugs” and “address the opioid crisis and other challenges of drug addiction as mainly public well being problems, not seek to additional harm the men and women and communities suffering addiction.”
“As president, I will bring our misguided War on Drugs to an finish.”
That requires legalizing cannabis, expunging the records of these with non-violent marijuana convictions on their record and putting a federal tax on sales, when applying that income to support these most impacted by prohibition.
“We will regulate the industry and location a tax on all recreational sales, investing billions in income generated in the communities disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs,” the strategy says.
We speak a lot about second possibilities, but also numerous persons in our nation by no means even got a 1st possibility.
My #FirstChance strategy connects the dots involving housing, education, and well being to make sure every person has a 1st possibility in life.
Study Right here: https://t.co/TQ3UG0SEBF pic.twitter.com/dZisTsmXz1
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) October 23, 2019
In order to market equity in the legal business, Castro stated he would also make grant applications “that assistance minority-owned firms and prioritize persons straight impacted by the war on drugs in getting marijuana enterprise licenses.”
The wide-ranging strategy also consists of proposals to finish drug sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine, as properly as launch a federal overview of all sentencing recommendations to quit other racial disparities.
Castro stated he’d launch initiatives aimed at stopping misuse of what he named “dangerous” drugs and treating addiction. Additional, he pledged that pharmaceutical providers whose actions contributed to the country’s opioid issue would be held accountable “for their function in the suffering of millions. ”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-IVT), a rival presidential candidate, rolled out his personal marijuana-focused strategy on Thursday that pledges to deschedule the substances inside the 1st 100 days of his administration, ban tobacco providers from participating in the business and encourage nonprofit enterprise models.
And former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), one more contender, also released a strategy on Thursday that emphasizes the have to have to treat addiction in the public well being sector. His proposals include things like decriminalizing possession of all drugs and investing in harm reduction applications such as needle exchanges and supervised consumption websites.
Like many other presidential candidates, Castro stated he would use presidential clemency powers to straight away impact modify in the criminal justice technique. He pledged to make an independent commission to overview the thousands of situations of non-violent drug offenders serving time in federal prison, with the panel producing suggestions to him about clemency possibilities.
“This is the single largest step we can take to straight away lessen the unacceptable size of our prison population and set an instance for the rest of the nation that the era of mass incarceration have to finish,” he stated.
“There are an estimated 17,000-plus persons serving unjust and excessive sentences in federal prisons proper now, usually for non-violent drug offenses.”
He is also pledging to “pass legislation requiring states that get positive aspects to lift the lifetime ban on Supplemental Nutrition Help Plan (SNAP) and Short-term Help for Needy Households (TANF) positive aspects for persons with felony drug convictions.”
Notably, Castro recognized that reform in the federal prison technique is not adequate to finish mass incarceration. That is why he’s proposing “a major-to-bottom audit of each federal dollar to obtain the strategies in which the federal government subsidizes cruel and damaging practices in state and neighborhood prison systems, and assistance efforts to redirect sources towards restorative justice.”
Other non-drug distinct reform proposals in his strategy include things like abolishing money bail and mandatory minimum sentences, ending the death penalty and solitary confinement and restoring voting rights for men and women who had been incarcerated.
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Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.