Recently, the House Committee’s Resolution recognizing that the US has a moral obligation to meet its foundational promise of guaranteed justice for all, received one new co-sponsor. Making a total of 18.
One step closer to establishing a USA that won’t have to continue protesting, rallying, and speaking out for our brothers and sisters who have yet to enjoy all the benefits of liberty and justice for all.
One step closer to reforming the fewer than 140 officers that have been charged with murder or manslaughter, according to data maintained by Phil Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University. This out of the thousands of deadly police shootings in the U.S. recorded since 2005, reports the Associated Press.
Before Tuesday’s conviction of former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin for murder and manslaughter for pinning George Floyd to the pavement with his knee, only seven of those 140 officers charged were convicted of murder.
Yet the AP reports that the verdict for the George Floyd murder trial was read in a courthouse reportedly “ringed with concrete barriers, and patrolled by National Guard troops.” This in hopes of quelling another round of unrest — not just because of the Chauvin case but because of the deadly police shooting of Daunte Wright, a young Black man, in a Minneapolis suburb just days prior on April 11.
“Today, we are able to breathe again,” Floyd’s younger brother Philonise said at a news conference where tears streamed down his face. He compared his brother to the 1955 Mississippi lynching victim Emmett Till. Noting that except this time there were cameras rolling to show the world evidence of George’s murder.
In the months that followed Floyd’s murder, demonstrations and scattered violence broke out in Minneapolis, around the country, and beyond, in an effort to demand justice. Numerous states and cities responded by restricting the use of force by police, revamping disciplinary systems, or subjecting police departments to closer oversight.
But the work is far from over. This House Resolution needs more eyes on it and a whole lot of support!
So, since you may or may not be combing through congressional reports online to see what’s going on. Here’s a blunt summary of the Resolution that addresses the many issues of unjust examples in our country that if resolved sooner, would have likely prevented George Floyd’s tragic death.
Hopefully, this news will entice you to go looking for what other knowledge can be found and digested, or better yet motivate you to contact your local Senators and Representatives demanding their support:
A Brief Summary in the Author’s Words
“The U.S. has a moral obligation to meet its promise of guaranteed justice for all,” the authors of the resolution write.
“Mass decarceration is a moral and societal imperative that the United States must strategically and effectively pursue,” it states.
“A humane and effective justice system is a necessary prerequisite for a functioning and healthy democracy,” they add.
“It should be the responsibility of the Federal Government to make America more free by dramatically reducing jail, prison, and immigration detention populations.”
“Make America more secure by investing in the communities most destabilized by the failed policies of over-policing and mass incarceration,” the authors pleed. “And make America more just and humane by ensuring basic resources needed to feel safe are equitably provided to all people,” the letter concludes.
Statistics that Cannot Be Ignored
The resolution goes on to report nearly 2.2 million people are incarcerated, including 176,824 people in Federal jails and prisons. The number of people serving life sentences has quadrupled since 1984. Even as crime has fallen.
One out of every seven people in prison is currently serving a life sentence. Of which almost one-quarter are sentenced to life without parole.
More than a quarter of a million young people are arrested or referred to law enforcement in their schools each year, leading to what they refer to as a “cradle-to-prison pipeline.”
The U.S. is home to 21 percent of the world’s prisoners. Tens of thousands of people are forcibly deported away from their families through an immigration enforcement system that replicates the harms of over-policing and racial profiling by local law enforcement agencies, the authors report.
The authors of the House resolution confirm that incarceration is the final and all too frequently end result of the American legal system, but the harm is collectively experienced by a far larger set of people.
Through overzealous policing practices and subsequent correctional surveillance and stigmatization. Black, Hispanics, and indigenous communities are the most heavily impacted by the U.S. legal system.
“Broken windows” policing has led to mass criminalization, worsening police-community relations, and unacceptable levels of State violence, specifically impacting Black people,” the authors state.
Women Suffering Corrections More & More
Women are the fastest-growing population in the American legal system, outpacing men two to one, and their numbers have grown nearly 800 percent from 1978 to 2017, the resolution reports.
The toll of incarceration and detention has had a severe impact on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual people, it argues.
“LGBTQ+” individuals are imprisoned at far higher rates than the overall population, the authors insist. And, are denied parental rights in prison and jail.
The authors call for an end to the incarceration of ALL people of color, as well as those in jail and jail for non-violent offenses, and for crimes such as pregnancy loss, ending a pregnancy, or supporting loved ones who have lost or ended a pregnancy.
LGBTQ+ Individual Imprisonment Causes Epidemic Murder Rates
An estimated 3,209 adults held in prisons or jails in the U.S. identify as transgender, according to the ACLU. The organization says incarcerated transgender women of color have been murdered at an epidemic rate in the United States.
It Costs, How Much?
The total cost of the mass incarceration crisis, including the costs to those incarcerated and their families, is nearly $182 billion per year, the group says. The resolution points to ACLU studies saying incarcerated people are three or four times more likely to report having a disability than the rest of the US population.
The ACLU says that incarcerated people with disabilities are subject to criminalization, violence, and death, including those with untreated mental health diagnoses. Of whom are 16 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement.
The resolution states that the burden to pay for the Nation’s mass incarcerated crisis too often falls upon everyday people trapped in cycles of poverty and intergenerational trauma. And the effects of carceral trauma are limited and oftentimes unknown.
Unjust Economic Burden to Sustain the System
A half a million people are in jails without having been convicted, often because of an inability to afford cash bail. People leave jails and prison owing an average of $13,607 in fines and fees, says the study.
This unjust economic burden to sustain the system has caused inestimable, intergenerational, and disproportionate harm to communities, the study says.
Research suggests that the overall effect of incarceration on crime is modest. And deterrence effects are negligible, it says.
The study concludes that zero-tolerance policies result in the growing cradle-to-prison pipeline and that children with incarcerated mothers are five times more likely to end up in foster care than those without a parent in jail or prison.
The study also concludes that incarceration’s effect on crime reduction is unexceptional at best. There is no evidence of a deterrent effect.
Poverty, Substance Use Disorder, Trauma, and Limited Access to Basic Needs
This resolution aims to correct the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
The resolution argues that many of the policies contained in the 94 Crime Bill have proven harmful to certain communities. It highlights that the Federal Government has invested massive amounts of funding in policing, immigration enforcement, and prison and detention systems.
The root causes of crime and instability are typically poverty, substance use disorder, family and generational trauma, and poor access to health care and other basic social services, the resolution argues.
“The bill has accelerated mass criminalization and incarceration and fueled the prison industrial complex”, according to the resolution.
It also argues that a majority of people imprisoned in the US are expected to return home, return to society, and become productive members of their communities, but many do not. These individuals go home to find that their sentences, although served, are far from over and have collateral consequences and civil disabilities.
House of Representatives: Time is Now!
House of Representatives: Time is now for the Federal Government to begin a large-scale decarceration effort to reshape the US legal system. The House wants to decriminalize behavior and divert cases that do not require confinement.
Reports show they also want to legalize marijuana and overdose prevention sites. As well as expunging the records of individuals for all drug-related offenses. To end truth-in-sentencing and three-strike provisions and decriminalize sex work.
The goal is to shift resources away from criminalization and incarceration and toward policies and investments that fairly and equitably ensure that all people can thrive. And also dramatically reduce the incarcerated populations.
The House has voted to approve a bill to repeal the 94 Crime Bill, which encouraged the growth of police and prison infrastructure while limiting community investments that would have increased public safety, particularly in under-resourced communities.
The bill would also decriminalize addiction, homelessness, poverty, HIV status, and disabilities, including mental health diagnoses.
Ending the death penalty, including effective death sentences of life without the possibility of parole. Ending the criminalization of Black and Brown students in school. Creating a clemency review board that is comprised of community, court, and congressional stakeholders.
Decriminalizing the act of migration by repealing provisions in Federal law that criminalize migrants for irregular border crossings.
Abolishing youth jails, making the detention of children in any form the absolute last resort. Ending draconian systems of mandatory detention and automatic deportation.
Ending truth-in-sentencing laws and reinstating Federal parole.
Ending the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine.
Establishing a national compassionate release standard that includes a presumption of release for any person with a disability who has spent at least 15 years in prison. As well as any person over the age of 50 who has spent at least 10 years in jail.
Abolishing the incarceration of children and making automatic deportation of children a last resort for all people in the US.
Repealing the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 to return agency to incarcerated individuals and power to the courts to carry out regulation and oversight through court orders.
Ending solitary confinement.
Allowing transgender individuals to be housed in a facility that conforms with their gender identity. Providing access to high-quality, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive physical, mental, and behavioral health care in prisons and jails.
Restoring eligibility for Federal Pell grants to all students regardless of immigration status.
Ending forced labor practices and requiring incarcerated people to be paid for their labor at a rate no lower than the Federal minimum wage.
“The US Constitution and the American Civil Rights Act of 1964” is now at the National Constitution Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C. It provides research and analysis on constitutional rights and civil rights issues in the United States. The Center’s goal is to ensure that all Americans have equal access to justice and justice for all.
Prisons and jails should provide healthy and nutritious food and room for physical exercise to promote health. They should provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.
There should be gender-responsive practices for all incarcerated people, including women and transgender, gender-variant, and nonbinary individuals. The act should prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, age, race, national origin, disability, religion, and sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. It should provide adequate oversight of the Prison Rape Elimination Act to ensure the safety and protection of incarcerated people.
Read the entire text at Congress.gov