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The Democratic Faces of Prison Reform




President Obama , presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, have advocated prison reform. All three have recognized and called for change to a justice system that has the most inmates and prisons-jails in the world. The United States has approximately 25% of the world’s inmates and about 4500 prisons and jails. The United States has only 5% of the world’s population.

The United States has 2.3 million inmates—because our system of justice is broken.

We can drastically change our mass incarceration by judicially recognizing that addiction is a health issue and not a criminal offense. Instead of locking up nonviolent mentally ill offenders, we need to provide effective mental health care in our local communities to all in need. To end the endless cycle of high recidivism, we need to implement effective rehabilitation and have re-entry programs that really provide jobs and safe housing for our returning citizens.

President Obama has taken the first steps of reform. On November 2, 2015, President Obama visited a drug rehabilitation center in Newark, New Jersey. He emphasized that released inmates should have a second chance to become  productive members of society instead of a “return ticket to prison.” Later at Rutgers University Law School, he stated, “There are people who have gone through tough times, they’ve made mistakes, but with a little bit of help, they can get on the right path.”

Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, wants to end private prisons. Private prisons are criticized for  their primary goal of achieving profit instead of providing a safe environment for inmates and correctional officers. Sander’s has offered a bill in the senate that would end all government contracts for privately managed prisons and jails within three years of the approved legislation. He has demanded the end of disproportionate incarceration of minorities in America.

Hillary Clinton, in her April 2015 speech on criminal justice reform, advocated five points which included ending our era of mass incarceration by finding, “alternative punishments for low-level offenders.”In October, candidate Clinton stated, “I’m pledging to eliminate the disparity in sentencing between crack and cocaine, which disproportionately impacts African Americans.” She called for an end of job discrimination against returning citizens by banning the box requesting information about felony records for nonviolent offenses on job applications. Hillary Clinton twittered, “People who have paid their debt to society need to be able to find jobs, not just closed doors and hearts.”

Both Democratic presidential candidates have recognized and have called for prison reform!

By:Bradley Schwartz
Founder of

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2 Responses to The Democratic Faces of Prison Reform

  1. PrisonPath February 9, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

    Dr Hassan S. Labo– The need is quite apt and necessary given the fact that an ill reformed offender is more likely to unleash vengeance on the society on release and further fuel recidivism

  2. PrisonPath February 26, 2016 at 8:53 pm #

    William— “The Democratic Faces of Prison Reform” SIGH. Many of the toughest crime laws were crafted based on ideas and political mobilization that came from the very communities and democrats who served those communities. The Congressional Black Caucus demanded more action to stop the flow of narcotics into urban neighborhoods in the 70’s. California’s Democratic legislature and Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signs SB 42, establishing tough new mandatory minimum sentencing laws. President Jimmy Carter proposes easing Federal marijuana laws. Measure fails to find support in Democratically controlled Congress.-

    1986 New York’s Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo introduces sweeping drug war legislation that escalates Rockefeller-era penalties, particularly for crack cocaine. 1988 Presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson gives speech at Democratic National Convention and calls for “a real war on drugs” demanding reforms to interdiction efforts. Jackson suggests that the Federal government hasn’t made a sincere effort to stop the drug trade. “We must end the scourge on the American culture,” he says. Clinton 1994 crime bill and on and on. Democratic faces of prison reform?

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