The deep disparities in our nation’s criminal legal system are not new. They are not secret. For me, they are deeply personal. For years, policymakers, advocates, and community members have known that our criminal legal system disproportionately punishes black and brown people, yet we have seen too little progress made towards addressing these inequities.
The disastrous consequences of the war on drugs, the incarceration that results directly from the imposition of cash bail and exorbitant court costs, the perverse incentive of the for-profit prison industry – each of these is a policy decision that has led to the disproportionate incarceration of people of color.
To meaningfully address the legacy of these inequitable policies requires that we dismantle and completely reimagine our criminal legal system. To replace a system that is racist, xenophobic, and fundamentally broken, we must undertake a massive decarceration effort and construct a system that is centered on the principles of shared power, freedom, safety, equality, and human dignity.