When I sent in my RSVP for the Hillary Clinton town hall, I knew I would be attending the event with one goal: to find out Clinton’s plans for criminal justice reform. We have seen that Secretary Clinton is eager to say “Black Lives Matter” while in the spotlight, but when it comes to the actual policies in showing that Black lives matter, she leaves much to be desired. When I viewed each candidate’s official policy paper on criminal justice via their websites, I found that Martin O’Malley offers 32 policy changes aimed at combating racism in our nation’s policing. For Bernie Sanders, I counted 15 policy changes. However, for Clinton, there are only two: implementation of police body cameras and restructuring minimum sentencing.
While these two policy changes would be major steps in the right direction to reform criminal justice in the United States, Senator Sanders and Governor O’Malley both suggest these same policy changes as well as many more. My question for Clinton was what plans she has, beyond the two solutions in her policy paper, to show that Black lives really matter to her.
I knew it would be difficult to get my question asked in such a large crowd, especially since I am a known organizer for O’Malley. I branched out by making a Facebook event that invited people to ask my question for me. I also walked around the room before Clinton arrived with printed copies of my question, asking people to join me in asking with the hope that at least one of our voices would be heard. During the question and answer session of Clinton’s speech, one of my friends was called on and did a phenomenal job asking the question. Clinton responded by saying that she would increase training for police officers, add funds for conducting private investigations of police misconduct and end racial profiling.
I was happy that she brought up these solutions (though ending racial profiling is easier said than done). However, Clinton still failed to mention many of the criminal justice policy changes that O’Malley calls for that are a big part of the reason I organize for him. Clinton did not mention mandatory reports of police-involved shooting data; she did not mention creating a national force standard; she did not mention civilian review boards, eliminating sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine or abolishing the death penalty.
I would encourage you all to closely examine the criminal justice policies of each candidate when you have the time (you can usually find them by googling “‘candidate name’ criminal justice reform”). The list goes on and on of the policy changes that O’Malley has vowed to do and that Clinton does not even mention. These are policy changes that we need, not only to protect our citizens but also to protect our police officers. Clinton’s criminal justice policy must be expanded for her to address this issue with due diligence.
I already knew the real answer to my question before we asked Clinton at the town hall. When will the rest of America join me in demanding the criminal justice reform that our country needs?
—Greg Margida ’16