Criminal Justice Reform
Criminal Justice Reform seeks to fix the flaws present in the criminal justice system and mitigate the detrimental impacts that incarceration can have on prisoners, their communities, and society as a whole. With the rise of mass incarceration in America, as shown by the 500% increase in imprisonment rates over the last 40 years, the question of the fairness and effectiveness of our system has become more important than ever. Issues such as sentencing disparities and implicit biases within the justice system can contribute to undue punishment and unfair prison times. These are just some of the often overlooked issues that we’ve focused on. Our overall goal this year was to raise awareness about the criminal justice system while emphasizing restorative justice and addressing existing racial and socioeconomic biases.
RESTORATIVE, NOT RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE.
US: Three Strikes Policy Proposal
This proposal addresses the ambiguous Three Strikes Law and its damaging impact on youth. The Three Strikes Law significantly increases the prison sentences of persons convicted of a felony who have been previously convicted of two or more felonies, making it much more likely for them to receive a life sentence. Our proposal seeks to solve this issue by allowing the First Step Act’s Three Strikes Law sentence reduction to apply retroactively to those already convicted and given unfair sentences. In addition, it redefines and reduces the criteria of who falls under the Three Strikes Law, and repurposes the money saved from reduced sentencing to restorative justice programs aimed at preventing youth crime and rehabilitating prison inmates.
US: Public Defender Policy Proposal
This proposal addresses the shortage of public defenders in our criminal justice system. The overwhelming number of cases that public defenders must oversee prevents them from providing adequate representation for each of their clients, resulting in more plea bargains. This is perpetuated by socioeconomic inequality; those without the means to hire a private attorney lie at a disadvantage. Our policy proposal seeks to ameliorate this situation by providing government-sponsored postsecondary and law school for aspiring public defenders. Thus, student loans for public defenders will be practically eliminated, increasing financial stability in this field. This change will increase the amount of public defenders, enabling each individual public defender to have a decreased workload. As the quality of cases for the defense of poor citizens increases, fewer incorrect convictions will come to pass, minimizing one of the forces of criminalization of poverty.
Issue Team Events
Delancey Street Visit
MAP visited Delancey Street, a residential, occupational program that helps ex-convicts learn life skills and gain the knowledge and expertise necessary to obtain and hold a job. Delancey Street also includes educational and vocational programs for these formerly incarcerated people. In San Francisco, the Delancey Street headquarters, they have their own restaurant which is run by these individuals. MAP also visited this restaurant!
Northern California Innocence Project Guest Speaker
We hosted a guest speaker from the Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) in a collaboration with Archbishop Mitty’s on-campus African American Student Union. The speaker, Lori Stone, discussed the issues regarding the unjust sentencing on innocent individuals, and how their nonprofit organization works to help exonerate innocents.
Priscilla Kim, Amun Asnani