The unjust murders of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement officers, including recently Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Louisville’s own Breonna Taylor, and the appallingly disproportionate response to peaceful protests, have brought Americans into the streets. While it is the duty of our youth to cry out against the pain of injustice, it’s on us as leaders to find healing solutions. An unprecedented moment calls for unprecedented action.
At the heart of my campaign is the promise of economic and social justice for all. Here are the proposals I am making today.
- Establish A Criminal Justice Overhaul Commission
A federally appointed commission, composed entirely of people of color, to draft a comprehensive plan to address police brutality and racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Sign our petition for this plan today.
- Since the “War on Drugs” began in the 1970s, incarceration has increased 700% in America. We have the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world.
- This warlike atmosphere has led to the militarization of municipal and state law enforcement agencies who’ve been armed and equipped with excess equipment from our Armed Forces.
- With the advent of for-profit prisons in 1985, political contributions from that industry have increased over time, proportionately matching the number of those incarcerated, encouraging elected officials to sustain this system.
- We’ve turned imprisonment into an industry with people of color being the raw materials. They are recycled and reused, transforming them from a citizen to a commodity.
- Murders of unarmed people of color at the hands of the police have occurred in cities throughout the country. Peaceful protests have been met with similar militant police responses in cities throughout the country. Federal guidance is necessary.
- No white person can ever fully understand what black Americans experience every day, and no white person will ever be able to find a solution on their own. Since the majority of federal representatives are white, we need an uninhibited independent body to provide expert advice.
- Cities have tried implementing policies piecemeal with inconsistent and sometimes no positive results. The commission will need to provide a solution that encompasses every facet of our police enforcement and legal systems to make sure racial bias is kept in check.
- No one has proposed such a commission to date (at least nothing came up in my research)
The commission must include, but should not be limited to:
· Public defenders
· Civil rights lawyers
· Community activists
· Psychologists/mental health experts
· LGBTQ and especially transgender women of color
· At least one member of every recognized minority race
· Disabled people of color
· Low income people of color
· Experts in policing, trial procedure, sentencing, incarceration, parole, and juvenile justice
The commissioners may decide to divide into subcommittees or working groups, but must prepare a joint proposal to be reviewed and implemented by Congress.
This will be the most necessary component of the entire proposal. Congress must agree to implement the commission’s forthcoming proposal at the time the commission is formed. If this doesn’t happen, Congress will try to pass piecemeal legislation, starting with the least impactful changes, that will undermine the entire effort. They would never accept the commission’s full recommendations, and the commission would feel pressured to tone down their proposals in the vain hopes of Congressional approval.
Where the commission proposes policies outside federal jurisdiction, Congress will formally recommend or incentive states to adopt those policies.
Congress will also set a predetermined period of time, starting from the day of the commission’s recommendations being implemented, after which the effects of the overhaul will be analyzed and Congress will have to reauthorize continued implementation.
Sign our petition for this commission today. A separate but similarly designed commission will be established to address reparations for the descendants of previously enslaved people.
2. End The War On Drugs
- Legalize and de-schedule marijuana. Not only do I support legalizing marijuana, I support de-scheduling it. At the moment it is a Schedule II Drug, deemed as dangerous as heroin.
- Release from jail all nonviolent drug offenders and expunge their records. Jailing folks who are not a danger to society is immoral as well as a waste of taxpayer dollars.
- Require coordination between law enforcement and addiction counselors. Criminal law enforcement should be seen as a last response to drug calls.
3. Demilitarize Our Police
- Stop telling police they’re at war, against drugs or anything else.
- End the practice of giving military grade equipment to municipalities and state policies immediately
- Repossess military grade equipment they already have
4. End the Prison Industrial Complex
- Abolish for-profit prisons. Since the advent of for-profit prisons in 1985, political contributions from that industry have increased proportionally to the number of people incarcerated. This has perpetuated and become a vicious spiral with the War on Drugs. We’ve turned imprisonment into an industry with people of color being the raw materials. On top of the harm this causes to those unjustly incarcerated, it discourages rehabilitation for those who have actually committed a crime and almost guarantees recidivism. We need to abolish for-profit prisons and break the cycle of paying off politicians to turn a blind eye.
5. Make Police Accountable
- Change the way we recruit and train officers.
- Hire officers of color so they reflect the communities they are meant to serve and protect.
- Train officers in communication and counseling as much as they are in firearms.
- Require police officers to wear functioning body cameras — this needs to be a federal law.
- Require officers to immediately declare when a camera is malfunctioning and return to their stations for a replacement.
- Police who incur an incident while their cameras are off should be dismissed — or at the very least be denied paid leave pending investigations.
Action Over Words: The last I’ll say is it’s easy to speak to lofty goals in justice, and even easier to excite a crowd in calling out the obvious flaws in our criminal justice system.
It’s harder for a politician to take a stand, to call for a political ally to resign when they’ve clearly failed their responsibility to uphold justice.
I did that when I called for Mayor Fischer to step down on Monday. I’m not a politician, and I’m not seeking any other office in the future.
I started this campaign with the mission to defeat Mitch McConnell and achieve economic and social justice for all. That’s why I’ll always prioritize researching and writing up solutions, rather than using people as props to advance my own career. That is why I will not play coy when our leaders have let us down, and why we will continue to make concrete, substantive policy proposals to solve the crises of our time.
Mike Broihier is a farmer, educator, local newspaper reporter, and retired Marine Lt Colonel running as Democrat for US Senate in Kentucky. You can learn more about Mike at MikeForKY.com.