Politics N’ Stuff Episode 9: Criminal Justice Reform


Angie Boynton and Amanda Jordan

On this episode of Politics N’ Stuff Angie and Amanda go over the top presidential candidates perspectives on criminal justice reform. Amanda starts off with the first half of the candidates, and Angie follows up with the rest of the democratic candidates and the republicans. The girls both go over their own personal opinions on the matter, and explain legal terms and systems along the way. Tap the logo above and subscribe to us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, or continue reading to get the laydown on what happened. 


Joe Biden promise to address issues such as illiteracy and child abuse that are highly linked to incarceration. He wants to invest in education and expand funding for mental health and substance abuse. As well as, expand the power of the justice system to address police misconduct and invest in our public defenders As president Joe Biden will eliminate mandatory minimums,  end the crack and cocaine disparity, and legalize marijuana. Biden believes we need to release all those in prison for weed immediately and end incarceration for drug abuse alone. He wants to end the death penalty and cash bail, and stop jailing people for being unable to pay fines. Joe Biden says he wants to expand the after school programs to keep kids off the streets, end punishment because of age under the law, and protect juvenile records to give kids a true second chance. Lastly, Biden will make sure all incarcerated individuals have housing after release and eliminate the burden by giving incentives to hire ex-convicts. 

Elizabeth Warren says that criminal justice reform starts with good education, affordable housing, and violence intervention programs. As president she will invest in diversion programs for substance abuse, address the crack/cocaine sentencing disparity, work to stop the, “tough on crime’ mentality, end cash bail, hold the wealthy accountable, and reform law enforcement. Warren believes that before the criminal justice system can be reformed we need to break the school-prison pipeline, decriminalize mental health, leave behind the legacy of the war on drugs, and stop criminalizing homelessness and poverty. She will work to improve access to drug treatment and suicide prevention by increasing law enforcment training in the matter. When it comes to law enforcement she believes officers need to be held accountable and require the use of bodycams. In the courtroom, she will work to strengthen our public defenders, protect the rights of survivors, appoint diverse justices, raise the age of criminal liability, end the death penalty, invest in rehab options, elimnate private prisons, and support ex-convicts upon re-entry. 


Bernie Sanders, if elected president in 2020 will work to end for-profit prisons and the cash bail system. He wants to increase public defenders, get rid of the death penalty, end the three strikes law, and expand alternatives to prisons. Sanders is determined to end the harmful war on drugs, legalize marijuana, and expunge past marijuana convictions. Bernie Sanders will work to create a prisoners bill of rights. Lastly, he will decriminalize addiction, homelessness, and poverty, and hold law enforcement accountable for their actions. 


Pete Buttiege’s goal, if elected president in 2020, is too reducel nationwide total of people incarceration by 50%. He will do this by committing to meaningful reform, reducing federal sentence, legalizing marijuana, and eliminating mandatory minimums. He wants to begin to explore sentencing caps and abolishing for-profit prisons, eliminating cash bail and poverty-based incarceration. Buttiege will make sure prisons provide free phone calls, and increase public defenders and public immigration defenders. In the justice department Pete will diversify the judiciary committee and appoint justices committed to the CJS. He wants to ban juvenile life sentences and end the school-prison pipeline. As well as, abolish the death penalty and reduce solitary confinement. Pete will provide better recovery opportunities after incarceration and promote fair wages and the right to vote for convicted felons. He will change the system so that people with a criminal background can serve on juries and police will have to go through mandatory bias training. 

Andrew Yang will review mandatory minimum laws and shift policy for drug convictions from jail time to treatment. Yang believes in ending the private prison industry, and instead supports programs to help formerly incarcerated individuals reintegrate into society. He wants to provide incentives for businesses to hire convicted felons and release non-violent drug offenders. As president he will legalize marijuana and expunge all people convicted of marijuanapossession and consumption. Andrew Yang will decrease the state’s reliance on cash bail and instead implement systems of pretrial services, such as text alerts about upcoming court dates. He promises he will fight white nationalism in America and restore convicted felon’s voting rights

Amy Klobuchar wants to prioritize mental health treatment in prisons. As well as, allow non-violent  offenders a chance at reduced sentences. 


Micheal Bloomburg believes the justice department should provide incentives for states to experiment with and evaluate the impact of shorter prison sentences. If elected Bloomburg will push to expand alternative-to-incarceration programs that have proven record of success, as well as, expand drug treatment, mental health services, and re-entry and career training. Micheal Bloomburg supports reform efforts that aim to reduce or eliminate cash bail for non-violent offenders. He plans to launch a nationwide initiative to cut imprisonment for young people in half by the end of his first term and eliminate juvenile incarceration for all non-violent offenders. During his term as the mayor of New York City youth incarceration fell by 63% due to his efforts. He was also able to reduce the total amount of people behind bars in the city by 40%


Cory Booker promises that as president of the United States he will fight to end the War on Drugs. He will implement bold and comprehensive reforms of our criminal justice system and restorative justice, as well as, decriminalize marijuana, expunge records, and restore communities devastated by the War on Drugs. He wants to expand clemency to people serving excessive sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, and eliminate the racially-targeted sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Booker will end harsh mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses and improve the ability of those behind bars to stay in touch with their loved ones. He is passionate about removing the barriers to employment for convicted felons by, “banning the box,” making it easier for felons to receive occupational licenses. Cory Booker believes in reinstating the right to vote to convicted felons and better training for law enforcement officers on implicit racial bias, de-escalation and use-of-force.

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Tom Steyer believes America needs a criminal justice system of mass incarceration and punishment, not rehabilitation and restorative. In order to facilitate this he believes we need to reform our criminal justice system to reflect the rule of law for all, end the cash bail system, and reduce the number of people incarcerated. Steyer wants to promote better policing meths, stop the prison pipeline, and fully eliminate private prisons. As well as, restructure the parole and probation system and increase resources for public defenders.


Julian Castro says he believes in, “people first policing, calling the end of over-aggressive and combat racially discriminatory policing. If elected president in 2020, he promises to hold law enforcement accountable and start the healing process between communities and law enforcement. 


Bill Weld says that after being a prosecutor for seven years, he believes in the rule of law. If elected president in 2020 he will mandate that all persons in custody receive adequate treatment and fundamental human rights. He will also address the issue of sexual assault on prisons and facilate conversations about bail reform. Weld believes the entire process of sentencing must be closely scrutinized to move toward equal treatment under the law for all. Bill Weld will turn legal concentration on violent drug offenses instead of regular drug offenses. He also promises to legalize marijuana nationwide by de-scheduling cannabis as a class on narcotic. Lastly, he believes that as a country we need to do a better job enforcing federal civil rights laws. 


Joe Walsh did not have any information on his official campaign site regarding criminal justice reform or mass incarceration. But according to the website Poli Talk USA, he has been quoted as saying he supports reforming the criminal justice system. 


Donald Trump and the department of justice has been working with local law enforcement to protect American families. During his time in office Trump has supported students whose free speech rights have been under attack on university campuses. He also started his High Intensity Drug Trafficking Program, which dismantled 3,000 drug trafficking organizations in 2018 alone. President trump also has stated he promoted 2nd chance hiring. Before being elected president, Donald Trump was famously quoted as saying during a specific case of the rape and assult of a female jogger in central park, that the alleged perpertrators should reviece the death penalty. The alleged rapist were five pre-teen boys.