Bernie Sanders releases plan to reform ‘dysfunctional criminal justice system’

Sen. Bernie Sanders released a plan to reform the U.S. criminal justice system on Sunday. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI

Aug. 19 (UPI) — Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders released a plan to “reform America’s dysfunctional criminal justice system” on Sunday.

The Independent Senator from Vermont dubbed the plan “Justice and Safety for All,” focusing on ending mass incarcerations, eliminating for-profit prisons and altering the way communities are policed.

“When Bernie is president, we will finally make the deep and structural investments to rebuild the communities that mass incarceration continues to decimate,” the plan states. “We must move away from an overly punitive approach to public safety and start focusing on how to safeguard our communities, prevent the conditions that lead to arrests and rehabilitate people who have made mistakes.”

As part of the plan, Sanders pledges to combat profiteering in the criminal justice system by banning for-profit prisons, making prison phone calls and other communications free and regulating commissary practices to end price gouging and exorbitant fees.

Other prison reforms mentioned in Sanders’ plan include ending solitary confinement, providing healthcare to incarcerated transgender people and ensuring that juvenile facilities are “designed for rehabilitation and growth.

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Sanders’ plan seeks to stop excessive sentencing with the goal of “cutting the incarcerated population in half, in addition to ending cash bail, banning the prosecution of children under the age of 18 in adult courts and expunging past convictions for marijuana-related offenses.

The plan also aims to transform the American police system by providing increased oversight, including establishing federal standards for the use of body cameras, creating a federally managed database for police use of deadly force and ending federal programs that provide military equipment to local police forces.

In addition, Sanders would seek to change the makeup of the police force by diversifying officers and academies and incentivizing officers to live and work in the community they serve as well as providing states and municipalities with funding to create civilian corps of unarmed first responders to relieve police officers from handling EMT and other duties.

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