Our criminal justice system is rigged, racist, and overly expensive. The U.S. has just 5% of the world’s population, yet houses 25% of the world’s prison population, with black and brown peoples disproportionately represented. Since the 1970s, our prison population has exploded, with 500% more prisoners and more than a 10-fold increase in cost. These are costs that we taxpayers must pay. Our current system of mass incarceration costs $182 BILLION each year. Many imprisonments are for minor drug or non-violent offenses, meaning we are destroying family units by locking up predominantly young black and brown men, and for what? So prisons can make a profit?! This is unacceptable.
According to a 2018 study, 69,000 Virginians were incarcerated, a threefold increase since 1978 and thousands of them haven’t been convicted of a crime – they simply await their trial date (guilty until they can prove they are innocent?). Our incarceration rate is 11% higher than the national average and, if you’re black, you’re 5x more likely to be incarcerated. Our system is fundamentally broken, and built on the back of greed, corruption, and systemic racism. To tackle this, we must:
- Eliminate for-profit incarceration
- Stop private prisons’ lobbying efforts
- End cash bail and reform the pretrial system
- Provide treatment, not prison, for people struggling with mental illnesses and substance abuse
- Collaborate with communities to end the school-to-prison pipeline
- End the systemic abuse and staggeringly high rates of sexual assault for women in prison
- Abolish the death penalty at federal level – because murder is wrong, no matter who is doing the killing.