A Statement on Local Criminal Justice Reform


In response to the Mayor and Commission’s work session on Wednesday, March 20, where criminal justice was addressed, we would like to take a moment to reiterate our related policy positions. We stress the urgency and necessity of transformative, unapologetic approaches to our criminal (in)justice system:

 

  • We oppose the ACC government’s use of unpaid inmate labor on multiple fronts because we believe the city should provide all of its workers with living wages and that good-paying jobs decrease poverty and crime. Moreover, we believe jobs with fair wages in a city with such high poverty serves the city more than unpaid labor ever could.
  • We believe in the decriminalization of marijuana because we must end mass incarceration and eliminate policies that disproportionately put Black residents behind bars. The ACC Government should pass a parallel ordinance allowing police officers to charge people possessing marijuana with a lesser civil penalty rather than the much more serious charges prescribed by state law. On the state level, we are pushing for full legalization.
  • We want to end money bail because it disproportionately harms poor people of color. We encourage our Mayor and Commission to pass an ordinance that amends the local code to: (1) reduce the number of people arrested for ACC code violations and (2) completely eliminate cash bail for any arrests for violations of the ACC code.

    By arresting fewer people, we also start questioning why some “crimes” are crimes to begin with and what alternatives there are to punishment and cages. This is also why we have to be vigilant about alternatives to cash bail like risk assessment and costly “pre-trial services” like ankle monitors, mandatory meetings with probation officers, etc. Our goal is to reduce the reach of the criminal justice system, not simply change the way it operates. While a resolution is also nice, a local ordinance signals to judges our more visionary intentions as a community with regard to cash bail.

 

We encourage our Mayor and Commission to seek bold, creative solutions around criminal justice and to be steadfast in its commitment to transparency and accountability during the process.

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