Hillary Clinton made her first big policy speech this week on the need to reform the criminal justice system. Now a declared Democratic candidate for president next year, Mrs. Clinton spoke about ending mass incarceration and targeted policing as an early term focus. Civil unrest in Baltimore this week was coincidental to her speech, but it served as a compelling backdrop to remarks she offered Wednesday morning at the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University.
“From Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable,” Hillary Clinton said today. “My heart breaks for these young men and their families. We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America,” she said, naming Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray, all unarmed black men who died at the hands of law enforcement officers.
Leading all Republicans and Democrats in national polls, the former First Lady, New York State Senator and Secretary of State said the criminal justice system is no longer balanced. It needs to be restored, she said, promising to deliver real reforms. Mrs Clinton called for many reforms, including that every police department in the country have body cameras, which she believes will “protect good people on both sides of the lens.” Prioritizing crime prevention, she said, will be measured not just by the number of arrests police make. Her remarks also included a call for non-prison punishments for non-violent drug crimes, reforms to significantly reduce the prison population and more support for mental health care.
Brown Backs Hillary’s Call For Criminal Justice Reform
Sen. Sherrod Brown spoke to reporters today about his efforts to ensure paid sick leave for workers and keeping Ohio families healthy in light of an unusually severe flu season. “Ohioans shouldn’t have to choose between their health or a paycheck,” Brown said in prepared remarks. His bill, the Healthy Families Act, is important because it guarantees paid sick and family leave to all Americans, and would protect public health and increase economic security for millions of families. “We know that when workers are healthy, they are more productive. Providing sick days can help decrease turnover and give employers safer, healthier, and more stable workplaces.”
As usual for his conference calls, Sen. Brown offered to answer off-topic questions, too. When I asked him if Mrs. Clinton was on or off target on her recipe for reforms, he said, “She’s onto something.”
He deplores the wasteful spending of so many tax dollars that send low-level violators away for years to institutions that do them little good at best for offenses, in the case of drug users, he says harmed nobody except the user. “She can kick off a national discussion with Republicans, and the president,” he said, addressing the need to look at the criminal justice in a different way.
TPP – Lots of Amendments Coming
Asked about the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP, Brown,who’s been a full-throated opponent of the largely secret bill, said debating fast-track authority will happen next week. “There will be lots of amendments,” he said, noting he’s previously disagreed with former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush on trade policies like NAFTA, and is doing so again with current President Barack Obama on the TPP trade policy. Senior senator from a state once called part of the “Rust Belt,” he’s not forgotten that millions of jobs disappeared from Ohio and the American economy, and that global trade policies like NAFTA have helped depress wages for American workers who must often compete with workers making cents on the dollar for a day’s work.