Bernie Sanders on Crime
Democratic primary challenger; Independent VT Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)
ONE CANDIDATE HAS SIMILAR VIEWS: Beto O`Rourke.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has argued for restoring voting rights to felons currently incarcerated. Former Rep. Beto O`Rourke has indicated support for restoring voting rights for nonviolent offenders.
Five Democratic candidates have adopted a more cautious approach, saying that voting rights should be restored after prison.
NINE CANDIDATES HAVE SIMILAR VIEWS: Cory Booker; Peter Buttigieg; Julian Castro; John Delaney; Tulsi Gabbard; Kamala Harris; Elizabeth Warren; Marianne Williamson; Andrew Yang.
Many Democrats have called for ending or not renewing the federal government's contracts with private prison companies. Sen. Warren would leverage federal public safety funding to extend the ban to the state and local levels.
Today, we have a two-tier criminal justice system. If you are wealthy or middle class, you post bail and prepare for your trial at home. If you are poor and cannot afford the $500 or $1000 for bail, you are forced to remain in jail while you await your trial.
CLINTON: I do reserve it for particularly heinous crimes, like terrorism. I thought it was appropriate after a very thorough trial that Timothy McVeigh received the death penalty for blowing up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
SANDERS: It's hard to imagine how people can bomb and kill 168 people in Oklahoma City, but this is what I believe: #1, too many innocent people, including minorities, African Americans, have been executed when they were not guilty. We have to be very careful about making sure about that. But #2, of course there are barbaric acts out there. But, in a world of so much violence and killing, I just don't believe that government itself should be part of the killing. So, when somebody commits any of these terrible crimes that we have seen, you lock them up, and you toss away the key. They're never going to get out. But, I just don't want to see government be part of killing.
Q: Senator Sanders, you have been a critic of Secretary Clinton taking speaking fees and having donations from Wall Street. What about her defence?
SANDERS: Wall Street is perhaps the most powerful political force in this country. You have companies like Goldman Sachs, who paid a fine for $5 billion for defrauding investors. It was one of those companies whose illegal activity helped destroy our economy. Kid gets caught with marijuana, that kid has a police record. A Wall Street executive destroys the economy, no criminal record. That is what power is. That is what has to change.
Every effort should be made to have police forces reflect the diversity of the communities they work in. And that must include in positions of leadership and training departments.
We must demilitarize our police forces so they don't look and act like invading armies. We should federally fund and require body cameras for law enforcement officers to make it easier to hold everyone accountable. We must stop cash-starved communities from using their police forces as revenue generators.
During the campaign, I met frequently with members of the Black Lives Matter movement. This loosely knit organization was successfully educating the nation that in many black communities the police were not there protecting the people, but intimidating them. And time and time again, tragically, cell phone video cameras were recording horrific examples of extreme police brutality, the taking of innocent lives by overly aggressive police action.
There was no question that, as a nation, we had made great advances in civil rights. But there was also no doubt in my mind that much, much more needed to be done.
Many American, and not just African-Americans and Latinos, are becoming increasingly outraged by police brutality. They are rightfully tired of turning on the television and seeing videos of unarmed blacks being shot & killed by police officers. They want criminal justice reform. They want police department reform. And I agree.
The vast majority of police officers are honest and hardworking. But when a police officer breaks the law, that officer must be held accountable. Further, police officers must be trained to understand that lethal force is the last response, not, as is too often the case, the first response. I promised that I would make sure that all killings that took place when people were in police custody or being arrested would prompt a Department of Justice investigation.
Among many other struggles we must engage in to combat racism in this country, we must stop police brutality and the killing of unarmed African-Americans. This has emerged as one of the great civil rights issue of the early twenty-first century.
Too many African-Americans and other minorities find themselves subjected to a system that treats citizens who have not committed crimes like criminals. Because of over-policing in minority communities and racial profiling, 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 than whites.
We must reexamine honestly how we police America, and the federal government can play an important role in establishing a new model police training program that reorients us in the way we do law enforcement. First and foremost, we must develop new rules on the allowable use of force. Police officers need to be trained to de-escalate confrontations and to humanely interact with people, especially people who have mental illnesses. Lethal force should be the last response, not the first.
CLINTON: Well, look, I supported the crime bill. My husband has apologized. He was the president who actually signed it, Senator Sanders voted for it. I'm sorry for the consequences that were unintended and that have had a very unfortunate impact on people's lives.
Q [to Sanders]: You called out President Clinton for defending Secretary Clinton's use of the term "super-predator" back in the '90s when she supported the crime bill. Why did you call him out?
SANDERS: Because it was a racist term, and everybody knew it was a racist term. Look, much of what Secretary Clinton said was right. We had a crime bill. I voted for it. It had the Violence Against Women Act in it. When as mayor of Burlington, we worked very hard to try to eliminate domestic violence. This took us a good step forward. We're talking about the weapon that killed the children in Sandy Hook. This banned assault weapons, not insignificant.
SANDERS: We need fundamental police reform. I would hope that we could all agree that we are sick and tired of seeing videos on television of unarmed people, often African-Americans, shot by police officers.
SANDERS: This is a responsibility for the U.S. Justice Department to get involved:
Bernie has consistently spoken out about the problem of mass incarceration, particularly of people of color, calling it an "unspeakable tragedy." In May 2015 he addressed the issue at Drake University
"Isn't the justice system meant to protect all citizens? It should. But while black people make up only 13% of the population, they account for 31% of all victims killed by police. Blacks make up nearly 40% of unarmed individuals killed by police with a gun and 42% of unarmed individuals that are killed by police by means other than a gun. (And remember: statistics on police shootings are self-reported, so this data probably underestimates this depressing state of affairs.)"
CLINTON: Well, Senator Sanders voted for it as well; will you ask him too? Some aspects--the violence against women [VAWA] provisions--have worked well. But, other aspects of it were a mistake.
SANDERS: As we all know, there are bills in congress that have bad stuff--Good stuff and bad stuff in the same bill. Now, if I have voted against that bill, Clinton would say, "Bernie voted against the ban on assault weapons. Bernie voted against the violence against women act." Those were good provisions in the bill. Violence against women act has protected millions of women in this country, it was in that bill. The ban on assault weapons, that's what I have fought for my whole life. It was in that bill. I tried to get the death penalty aspects in that bill out. Clinton have a disagreement. I was then, and I am now opposed to the death penalty.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
This amendment reinstates the COPS Program. I remind everyone, when the COPS Program was functioning, violent crime in America reduced 8.5% a year for 7 years in a row. Throughout the 1990s, we funded the COPS Program at roughly $1.2 billion, and it drove down crime. Now crime is rising again. The COPS Program in the crime bill worked, and the Government Accounting Office found a statistical link between the COPS grants and a reduction in crime. The Brookings Institution reported the COPS Program is one of the most cost-effective programs we have ever had in this country. Local officials urgently need this support.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
The COPS Program has some history. It was started by President Clinton. He asked for 100,000 police officers. He said that when we got to 100,000, the program would stop. We got to 110,000 police officers and the program continues on and on and on.
This program should have ended 5 years ago or 6 years ago, but it continues. It is similar to so many Federal programs that get constituencies that go on well past what their original purpose was. It may be well intentioned, but we cannot afford it and we shouldn't continue it. It was never thought it would be continued this long.
CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants) is a membership organization of families of prisoners, prisoners, former prisoners and other concerned citizens. CURE's two goals are
Title: To provide Federal assistance to States and local jurisdictions to prosecute hate crimes.
Summary: Provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any violent crime that is motivated by prejudice based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim or is a violation of hate crime laws.
Title: To reduce the risk that innocent persons may be executed.
COPS Improvements Act of 2007 - Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to make grants for public safety and community policing programs (COPS ON THE BEAT or COPS program). Revises grant purposes to provide for:
Opposing press release from Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1):: The reform sentencing laws in this bill may compromise the safety of our communities. Criminals convicted of violent crimes would have the opportunity to achieve 'low risk' status and become eligible for early release. California already has similar laws in place--Propositions 47 and 57--which have hamstrung law enforcement and caused a significant uptick in crime.
Supporting press release from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10):: S. 756 establishes a new system to reduce the risk that [federal prisoners] will commit crimes once they are released. Critically, S. 756 would not only implement these reforms to our prison system, but it also takes a crucial first step toward addressing grave concerns about our sentencing laws, which have for years fed a national crisis of mass incarceration. The bill is a 'first step' that demonstrates that we can work together to make the system fairer in ways that will also reduce crime and victimization.
Legislative outcome: Concurrence Passed Senate, 87-12-1, on Dec. 18, 2018; Concurrence Passed House 358-36-28, Dec. 20, 2018; President Trump signed, Dec. 21, 2018
Ratings by the National Association of Police Organizations indicate support or opposition to issues of importance to police and crime. The organization's self-description: "The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) is a coalition of police units and associations from across the United States. NAPO was organized for the purpose of advancing the interests of America's law enforcement officers through legislative advocacy, political action, and education.
"Increasingly, the rights and interests of law enforcement officers have been the subject of legislative, executive, and judicial action in the nationís capital. NAPO works to influence the course of national affairs where law enforcement interests are concerned. The following list includes examples of NAPOís accomplishments:
VoteMatch scoring for the NAPO ratings is as follows:
|Other candidates on Crime:||Bernie Sanders on other issues:|
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