The presidential candidate and senator for Massachusetts releases reform plan demanding recall of crime bill that began ‘war on drugs’
Social issues revolving around addiction, the war on drugs and legalization of cannabis are key elements of 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s plan for “comprehensive criminal justice reform.”
Published this week, U.S. Senator Warren noted that the U.S. makes up about five percent of the world’s population, yet houses 20 percent of the world’s prison population. With more than 2 million people imprisoned, the U.S. has the highest rates of incarceration in the world, she said.
In her reform plan, Warren calls for legalizing cannabis at the federal level, as well as erasing past, non-violent convictions related to the plant. She noted that is the first step to addressing the legacy of the war on drugs.
The plan’s unveiling comes just days after U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders unveiled his criminal justice reform proposal, which also called for marijuana legalization and the implementation of harm reduction policies, including safe consumption facilities, as reported by Marijuana Moment.
Warren’s report demands equality among social classes and races. “A kid with an ounce of pot can get thrown in jail, while a bank executive who launders money for a drug cartel can get a bonus. It’s long past time for us to reform our system,” she wrote.
“This failure [of the drug war] has been particularly harmful for communities of colour, and we need a new approach,” Warren noted. “It starts with legalizing marijuana and erasing past convictions, and then eliminating the remaining disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing.”
Specifically, she pointed out that the U.S. Department of Justice should not hold the authority to make clemency recommendations. Instead, this should be left up to an independent clemency board so that those who are eligible for pardons and commutations are more quickly identified.
“We send too many people to jail. We keep them there for too long. We do little to rehabilitate them,” said Warren.
Beyond cannabis reform, the Warren plan lays out some lofty goals for the U.S. criminal justice system. She would like to see a reduction in homelessness, housing insecurity and school to prison pipelines, as well as decriminalization of mental health services, more diverse substance abuse programming and a stop to criminalizing homelessness and poverty.
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Written by Ashley Keenan