Criminal Justice Reform

The United States has the largest prison population in the world. Human rights organizations such as the Human Rights Watch, the U.N. Human Rights Committee, and Amnesty International agree that mass incarceration in the United States is a serious violation of human rights. America is better than this. But through enacting simple reforms, we can reduce the prison population without harming our safety.

  • Promote smart policing to keep us safe. The militarization of police, excessive sentences for minor crimes, and tolerance for the few bad-apple police officers have not made Americans safer. We need to police smarter, not harder. We should use federal grant money to create incentives for local law-enforcement officials to adopt common-sense, evidence-based policies that will reduce prison populations, save money, and target the real bad guys. We should spend police resources on real criminals and gangs, not loitering teenagers. We should combat trafficking instead of criminalizing its victims. Punishment that is swift and certain doesn’t have to be severe to deter crimes.

  • Legalize and regulate marijuana. In passing Proposition 64, the voice of the people was clear: Californians will not stand for the unjust criminalization of a substance significantly less dangerous than alcohol. But the federal government still harasses law-abiding recreational and medical marijuana users and sellers. We will protect marijuana users in states where marijuana is legal and work to expand legalization across the country.

  • End the drug war. Drug addiction is the only medical problem we treat with imprisonment. The effects are obvious in the opioid crisis wreaking havoc in some of America’s most vulnerable communities. We must end mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. Instead of punishing drug addicts, we should expand access to treatment, including methadone, which has been scientifically proven to help addicts get clean and stay clean. And knowing that dead people can’t get clean, we must expand access to harm-reduction measures, such as clean needle programs and anti-overdose drugs.

  • Enact responsible gun control. Many Californians use guns for hunting, recreational shooting, or self-defense. We must protect responsible gun owners’ Second Amendment rights, while also ensuring that dangerous people do not have access to guns. We should institute universal background checks and ensure that domestic abusers cannot get weapons.