Biden Proposes 'Reimagining' Policing and Fewer Criminals in Prison

By Susan Jones | July 9, 2020 | 9:09am EDT
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders take part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate at CNN studio on March 15, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders take part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate at CNN studio on March 15, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

( - The Biden campaign has released a document that puts forward proposals formulated by task forces appointed by former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D.-Vt.) to reform the criminal justice system.

Here are some of the recommendations:

-- End the era of mass incarceration, including the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, and dramatically reduce the number of Americans held in jails and prisons.

-- Root out "systemic racism" in our criminal justice system and our society and "reimagine" public safety;

-- Prevent law enforcement from becoming unnecessarily entangled in the everyday lives of Americans, and reimagine policing;

-- Establish strict national standards governing the use of force, including permitting deadly force only when necessary and a last resort to prevent an imminent threat to life. ("We will require immediate application of these standards to all federal law enforcement agencies and condition federal grants on their adoption at the state and local level," the document says.)

-- Require officer training in "effective" nonviolent tactics, appropriate use of force, implicit bias, and peer intervention, both at the academy and on the job.

-- Partner police with social workers and mental health and substance abuse counselors when responding to "frontline public health challenges."

-- Limit qualified immunity for police, making it easier for "victims of federal, state, or local law enforcement abuses of power" to sue them.

-- End the failed war on drugs. ("Democrats believe no one should be in prison solely because they use drugs. Democrats will decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it through executive action on the federal level.")

-- Limit the sale and transfer of "weapons of war."

-- Collect and publish data on the use of force in police departments around the country.

-- Establish a national registry of officers who have been found to have abused their power.

-- Eliminate the use of cash bail; no jail time for people who fail to pay fines or fees.

-- Nominate and confirm (leftist) federal judges who have diverse backgrounds and experiences, including as public defenders, legal aid attorneys, and civil rights lawyers.

-- Close private prisons; end solitary confinement for adults and juveniles. Provide educational opportunities, including pursuing college degrees, for those in the criminal justice system, both in prison and upon release.

-- Restore voting rights for felons who have served their sentences. ("We will aim to ensure access to transitional housing for "returning citizens" [ex-cons], support expanded access to mental health and substance use treatment, and will stop the practice of re-incarcerating people for technical violations of probation or parole.")

(Note: On Wednesday, Biden said, “Yes, absolutely," when an interviewer asked him if police funding should be redirected. But the word "defund" does not appear in the unity task force policy recommendations.)

The following people produced the policy recommendations mentioned above:

Chiraag Bains and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Unity Task Force Co-chairs; Vanita Gupta, former head of DOJ's Civil Rights Division; Former Attorney General Eric Holder; Symone Sanders, the former press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign and now a Biden adviser; Iowa political activist Stacey Walker; Tennessee State Sen. Raumesh Akbari; and S.C. State Rep. Justin Bamberg.

Criminal justice reform is one of six policy recommendations outlined in the document. The others include climate crisis/environmental justice; economy (closing the racial wealth gap); education; health care; and immigration.

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