Criminal Justice Reform
I am proud of my record working on criminal justice reform efforts. Having served as the co-chair of the transition team for the elected sheriff of Harris County, the third most populous county in the Country, I led significant criminal justice reform efforts after a disastrous prior administration that blamed minority communities for officer involved shootings. I have worked with racially diverse communities and law enforcement to create and enact policy that reformed criminal justice.
Law enforcement officers are generally hard-working and caring public servants. Recognizing their dedication does not preclude a serious conversation about systemic injustice. We can work together to identify those officers that do not represent our shared values of equality, justice, and the right to live freely without fear of murder.
The recent murder of George Floyd is an important reminder that our work to reform the criminal justice system and and address racial injustice is far from complete. We must work together to eliminate the incidents of police brutality that plague our country and reduce the disparate impact of the criminal justice system on racially diverse communities.
I will utilize my experience having executed criminal justice reform in an Executive setting to once again bring all parties to the table to execute successful criminal justice reform.
Some of My Proposals Include:
Statewide Use of Force Standards - We must address statewide use of force standards, ensuring that diverse communities and law enforcement are part of the conversation when these standards are reviewed and implemented. Use of force standards must account for the totality of the circumstances and not create a presumption of innocence when an individual is wrongfully harmed or murdered by a law enforcement officer.
Addressing Community Relations- All police departments and sheriff’s offices in Colorado must have an active community liaison board reflective of the community it is sworn to protect. These community liaison boards must be involved in the recruitment of officers and meet with the police chief or sheriff on a regular basis to discuss community concerns. Citizen complaints and concerns would also require input from the community liaison board.
Improve Training - We must reinvent the way that law enforcement officers are trained in today’s social climate. Diversity and de-escalation training must be emphasized. We must ensure that those officers that train new recruits are carefully selected and screened to be sure they are teaching future law enforcement what is appropriate and acceptable behavior as they carry out their duties. It is frightful to think that many of the experienced officers involved in incidents of police brutality have trained other officers, and we must do better in establishing officer training protocols.
Early-Warning Systems- In the most recent public case of police brutality, George Floyd was murdered by a law enforcement officer with a history of incidents that should have indicated that he required significant supervision and retraining. Few law enforcement divisions have early-warning systems that can recognize those officers at risk of incidents of brutality and handle them appropriately. We must require all law enforcement offices have early-warning systems and a specific protocol to address those concerns, including the possibility of termination.
Bail Reform - Creating a fair bail system that does not penalize the poor, while at the same time ensuring the safety of the community is of utmost importance. This balance can be achieved with a reduction in the use of cash bail while also ensuring a judge can consider public safety when setting bail. Bail reform reduces discrimination based on wealth, decreases racial disparities, reduces incarceration rates, and reduces the actual costs to taxpayers. We must also increase the use of successful pretrial risk programs implemented in Denver to extend state-wide, to help give judges the information they need to only place the most necessary alleged offenders in jail.
Diversion and Re-Entry - We must emphasize investment in diversion programs, including training offers to work with the community and ensure that low-level offenders engaged in drug possession and sale crimes work with a social worker and avoid the court system and jail entirely. This reduces recidivism and re-arrest, decreases the disparate impact on racially diverse communities, and reduces costs and burdens on our system of incarceration. We must also engage community organizations to engage with younger prisoners to provide support and a bridge during reintegration to civilian life. These programs include former inmates that help to strengthen themselves by being a mentor to those reentering society. These programs are proven to reduce recidivism and improve the long term outcome of those that enter the prison system.