Democrats Have No Excuse Not to Reform the Criminal Justice System
Democrats now have the luxury of a unified government. Controlling the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House gives them an opportunity to do many things they have claimed to care about but have complained about being blocked by Republicans. And so, this opportunity is also one for others to hold Democrats accountable if they don’t actually do what they insist they wish to do.
Reforming our criminal justice system is a good place to start. During last summer’s demonstrations to protest the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, demands were voiced for racial equality and police reform. Democrats such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) and then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) never missed an opportunity to eagerly support the crowds demanding change.
Now that Democrats are in power, it’s time to act. They could change some of the rules that lead to over-criminalization, excessive reliance on punitive enforcement, and mass incarceration. While most criminal justice policy is set at the state level, the federal government can play an important role in reform. Starting with this issue has the advantage of being an uncommon area where Republicans and Democrats have successfully worked together in the past. The bipartisan nature of this effort would also send a strong signal that this administration is serious about unity and that President J
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