O’Rourke’s plan to reduce prison population includes release of 25,000 federal inmates

Politics

People pack Lavery Brewing Co. to hear Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke during a town hall event Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 in Erie, Pa. (Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP)

EL PASO, Texas (WTVO) — Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke says too many people are in jail so he outlined a criminal reform plan focusing on alternatives to sending people to prison.

“It’s unacceptable that America, the home of the free, locks up more of our own than any other country in the face of the planet, as we continue to have the world’s largest prison population — disproportionately comprised of people of color,” O’Rourke said in remarks forwarded by his campaign office.

He proposes to reform sentencing guidelines and spend $500 million to come up with alternatives to incarceration, banning private prisons and reduce the federal inmate population by 25,000 through clemency during his first term.

“We will not only reform this racist system, but we will work to end mass incarceration by ensuring fewer Americas enter the system in the first place while prioritizing rehabilitation and successful re-entry for those who have been locked out of it,” he said.

Part of the rehabilitation includes expanding access to health care, eliminating solitary confinement as a form of punishment and abolishing the death penalty. He would also make Pell Grants available to inmates and expand access to apprenticeship programs.

O’Rourke proposes tripling grant funding for re-entry programs, reinstate federal parole and encourage states to reduce parole lengths. The candidate said he wants to reduce homelessness among ex-convicts through access to substance abuse and mental health treatment.

He also called for the Justice Department to ensure police and prosecutors’ accountability through:

  • Misconduct investigations.
  • Federal civil rights enforcement.
  • Limiting qualified immunity for law enforcement officials found to have violated an individual’s constitutional rights.
  • Investing in training related to bias, use of force and de-escalation of violence.

The candidate’s proposals are the result, in part, of conversations with people who are currently in jail, according to his campaign office.

Read O’Rourke’s the full plan, visit https://bit.ly/2PqK4bB

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