Reps. Tlaib, Pressley Propose Ending Life Sentences, Closing Federal Prisons

By Melanie Arter | July 8, 2020 | 10:51am EDT
US Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN)(2R), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (L), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (R) hold a press conference, to address remarks made by US President Donald Trump earlier in the day, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on July 15, 2019. - President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on four progressive Democratic congresswomen, saying if they're not happy in the United States "they can leave." (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
US Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN)(2R), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (L), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (R) hold a press conference. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images) - Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) – two out of four members of “the Squad” – plan to introduce a bill, dubbed the BREATHE Act, to defund the police and provide reparations to African-Americans.

The proposed bill calls for ending life sentences; repealing all existing State juvenile offenses; decriminalizing and retroactively expunging state drug convictions; abolishing state gang databases; and abolishing the “three strikes” law.

It calls for banning pretextual stops and “consent” searches; and eliminating electronic monitoring including ankle monitors, smartphone applications, and other tools to track location.

It also proposes “repealing federal laws that criminalize human movement and border entry” and “developing a time-bound plan to close all federal prisons and immigration detention centers.”

“Until ICE and CBP are fully dismantled,” the bill calls for “ending State and local police entanglement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and all federal immigration enforcement agencies.”

It also calls for “removing police, armed security and metal detectors and other surveillance equipment from schools and government offices that provide social services.”

The bill incentivizes “decarceration” and subsidizes “non-punitive, community-led approaches to public safety” with the use of federal grant programs.

It calls for “eliminating all fees and surcharges within the criminal-legal system and forgiving outstanding court debt, reducing a financial burden that falls disproportionately on Black women.” It also eliminates “misdemeanor and ‘pay only’ probation.”

An overview of the bill published online has four sections: 
1.    Divesting Federal Resources from Incarceration and Policing & Ending Criminal-Legal System Harms
2.    Investing in New Approaches to Community Safety Utilizing Funding Incentives
3.    Allocating New Money to Build Healthy, Sustainable & Equitable Communities for All People
4.    Holding Officials Accountable & Enhancing Self-Determination of Black Communities

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