The facts are undeniable. Black people are disproportionately stopped, detained, arrested, charged, convicted, incarcerated, abused, and killed by the criminal (in)justice system in America. These statements aren't just my opinions, they're mathematical facts that hold up even when adjusted for income levels (though poor people also suffer disproportionately in the system.) These facts are why it is so important to admit (even to ourselves) that Black Lives Matter. If you are inclined to respond that "all lives matter," please read and consider Why it's wrong to say 'All Lives Matter' as a retort to 'Black Lives Matter'.
There are many steps that need to be taken to correct this issue, and some of the most important are as follows:
- End the "War on Drugs" and other types of prohibition that lead to the formation of black markets, gangs, and cartels.
- Remove the police from schools and abolish all status offenses. Individuals should not be punished for their maturity.
- Allow an outside body to investigate police shootings and allegations of police misconduct. The police investigating the police is a conflict of interest.
- Reallocate resources so that public defenders receive at least as much public funding as do prosecutors. There is a huge financial imbalance in the existing system which favors the state over the defendant.
- Allow individuals to easily petition for the removal of tickets and fines due to inability to pay, and prohibit the issuing of warrants for unpaid tickets and fines in all cases. Not paying a ticket should not be considered a crime.
- Abolish all three-strike laws and mandatory minimums. All cases should be judged individually and independently. Provide for, allow, and encourage the use of alternatives to incarceration as penalties—especially for non-violent crimes.
- Restructure the parole board system to facilitate more early releases on less onerous terms and to provide additional resources to the recently incarcerated.
- Create and improve processes for individuals to have their criminal records suppressed or expunged so that they can find work and fully reintegrate into society.
- Prohibit the use of no-knock and SWAT raids except in cases of extreme emergency such as those involving hostages. The issuing of normal warrants should not involve such tactics and neither should the perpetuation of the entirely unnecessary "War on Drugs."
- Demilitarize the police. The police should come from and remain part of the communities they serve. They should not invade neighborhoods in armored vehicles while wearing military gear and carrying rifles. Militarized policing breeds distrust among the people and creates a mental disconnect among the officers who no longer identify as part of the public they should be protecting and serving.
There are many things which can be done to improve the state of policing and criminal justice in America. What is happening now—and what has been happening for generations—is intolerable and the very antithesis of real justice. Until changes are made, the conflict and mistrust will only continue to escalate.
Learn more by reading about the 40 Reasons Our Jails and Prisons Are Full of Black and Poor People.