Oakland, CA – Today, President Biden is publicly unveiling his Safer America Plan to address the need for criminal justice reform. The plan calls to end the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine which has overwhelmingly impacted Black communities, increases access to federal benefits for the formerly incarcerated as they reenter society, makes investments in crime prevention like housing and mental health, and increases funding for police, in addition to other reforms. Janos Marton, the Justice Program National Director at Dream.Org, issued the following statement:
“Instead of more ‘tough on crime’, dungeons-first rhetoric that hasn’t worked, President Biden today laid out a criminal justice plan that actually keeps communities safe and makes lasting change. At Dream.Org, we are working to close prison doors and open doors of opportunity. That is why we welcome these reforms that will increase safety and keep communities whole. Importantly, President Biden has made it unequivocally clear in his plan that it is time to pass the EQUAL Act, which Dream.Org and our network of justice-impacted leaders have built bipartisan support for in both the House and Senate.
“Locking up people of color for longer sentences, which is what our racist drug laws have done, has only exacerbated long term inequality and cycles of poverty and crime. President Biden’s Safer America Plan recognizes this. Just as investing in education is proven to reduce crime down the line, so too do investments in opportunities and health. For instance, by investing in things like crime diversion programs, housing, and mental health services, President Biden’s plan will ease the burden on police to respond to every social problem while ensuring people who need help receive it without having to go through the justice system. And by making federal support, like SNAP and Social Security, accessible to formerly incarcerated people reentering society, this plan sets more people up for success instead of forcing them onto a path towards recidivism.
“Finally, in addition to reducing police interactions, we also need to reduce the number of people in our overstuffed prisons, which is why we are so encouraged by the President’s call through this plan to end the disparity between powder and crack cocaine. The EQUAL Act, which has already passed the House of Representatives twice with significant bipartisan support, would help about 10,000 people in prison for unjust sentences come home sooner. Making these families and communities whole again is a vital part of public safety. We call on Majority Leader Schumer and Judiciary Chair Senator Durbin to work for the EQUAL Act’s passage without further delay.
“This plan is not perfect, and with stricter drug sentences does continue some of the flawed policies that have led to America having the highest rate of incarceration in the world without reducing crime. But it also makes significant progress towards a criminal justice system that is focused on empathy and community safety, not just punishment.”
At Dream.Org, we close prison doors and open doors of opportunity. We bring people together across racial, social, and partisan lines. Through our Justice, Tech, and Green For All programs we are working towards an America with fewer people behind bars, less pollution, and more opportunity for our kids. Learn more at Dream.Org.
Photo Credit: Newsweek.com - President Joe Biden speaks at the Arnaud C. Marts Center on the campus of Wilkes University, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa./EVAN VUCCI/AP PHOTO