The war on drugs has been a failure, and has devastated the lives of the poor and people of color, placing a blemish on their record which disallows them meaningful employment to support themselves. The criminalization of cannabis led to the mass incarceration of thousands of people, and has been a major contributor to the United States having the largest prison population in the world. This criminalization has also lead to the expansion of the private prison industry, which profits from the misery of non-violent offenders, and disallows them the ability to support their families.
Californians voted to approve recreational cannabis, our state has already approved medical cannabis regulations. Colorado approved recreational cannabis, regulating and taxing it. In 2015-16, Colorado collected 42.5 million dollars in tax revenue and used it to fund education.
I will introduce legislation to legalize cannabis for recreational use and regulate and tax it to pay for public education programs in the same model as Colorado. It’s time we sent our low-level, non-violent offenders back to school, and stop promoting joblessness through extremely punitive measures for relatively minor crimes.
Institutional racism is used to keep people of color and immigrants suppressed and to divide voters. We will not end institutional racism until we admit it is a problem, and unite with our brothers and sisters of all races on a common goal of eradicating it. Until we unite and fight together, we will never see increases in our quality of life.
I desire to live in a country where every race is politically and economically equal. However, we must admit and accept that we have much work to do. Institutional racism is present in every major institution in our country, from housing and schools, to public services and policing. Institutional racism is used to keep people of color and immigrants suppressed and to divide voters. We can no longer allow racist institutions to divide us, but instead must work through grassroots activism and the legislative process to stop the suppression of all minorities.
Police brutality has increased in the news media. However, it is more likely that we are only hearing more stories of police brutality because of modern technology, and this brutality has existed all along. We must remember that the police officers in this country are working a job, and like any occupation, there are good people and bad people. Unfortunately, when a police officer abuses their power it causes oppression and in some events, unnecessary brutality, and even fatalities.
To end police brutality, we must ally with the police departments, but police departments must also be willing to release information to the courts and the public in cases where their officers are suspected of oppression, brutality, or murder.
I will introduce legislation that seeks stronger punishments against police officers that oppress, brutalize, and murder civilians. It is time to institute universally required body cameras and mandate the release of video evidence of police brutality and murder to the public within 24 hours of an officer-involved shooting. Police officers must be barred from reviewing any video before writing their statements regarding events depicted within those videos. We must also push for enhanced law enforcement training with diverse and disabled communities. We must demilitarize the police as they are meant for community protection and service, not war zones. Our streets are not made safer when police departments own military equipment.
While police brutality affects people of color disproportionately compared to white Americans, we are all affected when police officers overstep their authority and harm innocent civilians. We need to stand together to hold police departments accountable for their officers.
End Money Bail:
The bail system is currently based on wealth. If someone is wealthy, they can make bail fairly easily and be free until they have their day in court. Unfortunately, the money bail system doesn't work as easily for lower income Americans. If someone is arrested, that does not mean that they have been convicted of a crime. To make bail, they have to be able to afford a bail bond, which are expensive even for minimal criminal charges. The money bail system does not assist these individuals at all, and they are stuck serving a sentence for a crime that they may not have committed. While they are in jail, they cannot go to work, school, or provide for their family. These issues put people further into debt, as many people lose their jobs and possibly more.
To address these issues, we must promote a system that encourages success. Instead of bail, these individuals should be released, with obvious exceptions for known flight risks and those who are a risk to the public. Not only does this create and equitable system, but it also saves taxpayer money, as fewer individuals will require housing in a public facility.
I will introduce legislation that will be equitable to all. A system not based on social class, but fairness.
I support job training programs in prison, and minimum wage for all work performed. Without these programs and money to restart their lives, prisoners will return to a life of crime.
Addiction is a disease. We must stop treating addiction as a crime, not only because rehabilitation programs have proven their efficacy, but because punitive measures have proven not to work.
We must confront gun violence while protecting the right of law abiding citizens to own guns. There is a need for a federal ban on some types of "assault" weapons, but many current gun laws do not solve the problem of gun violence, and others remain unenforced. 60% of recorded gun violence is suicide. We must pass single-payer healthcare with full mental health coverage for all Americans to solve this issue. Reasonable, common-sense regulations on guns, after dealing with this issue will be welcomed by most gun owners.
With all of that said, the NRA exists solely to sell guns for manufacturers at all costs, including the cost of lives of innocent people. They proved this by sponsoring a bill to allow violently mentally ill people to buy guns after spending years attributing gun violence to mental health issues.