There’s a campaign 2016 flavor to the Baltimore riots.
Not just because former Gov. Martin O’Malley put on a crisp white shirt and toured the crime scenes on Tuesday — met with a mixed reaction by residents because of bitterness over his zero-tolerance crime policies as mayor.
“I just wanted to be present. There’s a lot of pain in our city right now, a lot of people feeling very sad,” O’Malley told reporters. “Look, we’ve got to come through this together. We’re a people who’ve seen worse days, and we’ll come through this day.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an audience at Columbia University today that “we have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America.”
“There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts,” Clinton said. “There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes. And an estimated 1.5 million black men are ‘missing’ from their families and communities because of incarceration and premature death.”
Clinton says the government needs to go further than President Obama’s proposal to give matching funds to state and local governments investing in body cameras, “and make this the norm everywhere.”
“We also have to be honest about the gaps that exist across our country, the inequality that stalks our streets. Because you cannot talk about smart policing and reforming the criminal justice system if you also don’t talk about what’s needed to provide economic opportunity, better educational chances for young people, more support to families so they can do the best jobs they are capable of doing to help support their own children,” she continued.
She advocated reforms to bring down incarceration rates. “One in every 28 children now has a parent in prison. Think about what that means for those children,” she said. “…Without the mass incarceration that we currently practice, millions fewer people would be living in poverty.”
Clinton admitted she didn’t “know all the answers,” and would be talking more about the issue “in the months to come,” but “it’s time to end the era of mass incarceration. We need a true national debate about how to reduce our prison population while keeping our communities safe.”
“There are other measures that I and so many others have championed to reform arbitrary mandatory minimum sentences are long overdue,” she said. “We also need probation and drug diversion programs to deal swiftly with violations, while allowing low-level offenders who stay clean and stay out of trouble to stay out of prison. I’ve seen the positive effects of specialized drug courts and juvenile programs work to the betterment of individuals and communities. And please, please, let us put mental health back at the top of our national agenda.”
Clinton named-dropped GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as one of the lawmakers who has pressed for criminal justice reform, and his campaign fired back that Clinton “proposed various criminal justice reform ideas in an attempt to undo some of Bill Clinton’s work– the same work she cheerfully supported as First Lady.”
“Not only is Hillary Clinton trying to undo some of the harm inflicted by the Clinton administration, she is now emulating proposals introduced by Senator Rand Paul over the last several years, and we welcome her to the fight.”