CRIMINAL JUSTICE

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

The first step of identifying a problem is admitting a problem exists. Our Criminal Justice System needs comprehensive reform, but until we admit this as a community—until we honestly face the statistics, the evidence, and the stories of those who suffer by its brokenness—we will never be able to fix this vital part of society. And we will never be whole.

Nearly 30% of the South Carolina population is African American, yet African-Americans account for more than 60% of the state’s prison population. The problem is no less horrible nationally: African-Americans account for 12% of the national population, but for 37% of the U.S. prison population.

These glaring numbers reflect a long and tragic system of minority oppression—a system that remains difficult for many of us to admit, a system that we would rather sweep under the rug. But our Founding Fathers, imperfect as they were, called for “liberty and justice for all.” Not some, but ALL.

Joe Wilson can’t be bothered to admit that a problem even exists—nor can many other members of Congress, as the Private Prison Lobby has become just as powerful and spend-happy as Big Oil and Big Pharma. But I’ll work hard in Washington with solutions to provide increased justice for all our SC District 2 neighbors. I promise to support legislation like “The Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017,” a bipartisan bill being introduced by Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) that provides incentives to states to rework their bail systems.

I am convinced we must stop evaluating prosecutors based on their conviction rates. We must rework our system to focus on finding the truth versus “achieving” a conviction. We must get rid of mandatory minimums, and we must implement rehabilitation programs that focus not only on reforming and educating offenders, but to provide a positive and uncomplicated path for ex-prisoners to reenter society and make positive contributions in our communities. The evidence is clear: when offenders reenter society with dignity and respect, with a positive path to achieving a normal life, the likelihood of reoffending is greatly lessened.

For-profit prisons are a disgraceful assault on the 13th Amendment and must be shut down once and for all. It is well beneath the spirit of American democracy for human beings to profit from an economic model that depends on increased incarceration numbers and decreased resources for offender reform and education. I will work diligently to shut down the private prison industry permanently.

Finally, we must acknowledge that there are law enforcement officers who do not perform their duties in the interest of protecting and serving their communities. My original plan as a young man was to serve four years in the Army, then become a policeman. I have the greatest respect for our men and women in blue. But law enforcement officers who are unfaithful to the honor-bound duty to protect and serve ALL citizens equitably need to be disciplined and removed from the team. This is what our military does—the standards for law enforcement should be no less.

We must foster an environment within our police forces that reward ethical policing. Our law enforcement officers deserve the best training and equipment to ensure that they can protect and serve their communities, then safely return home to their loved ones.

Imagine the impact of a fully reformed Criminal Justice System on our nation—where we no longer lead the world in incarceration rates and perpetuate a “prison industrial complex.” With 75% fewer prisoners, imagine the positive impact—including the elimination of thousands of single-parent homes. Tens of thousands of children will be reunited with their parents. And with a system that focuses on offender rehabilitation versus “profit per prisoner,” not only will our workforce be strengthened, but taxpayers will save billions of dollars. In short, when real justice is served, everybody wins!