Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley has introduced legislation Thursday that calls for an overhaul of the criminal justice system. The resolution, entitled The People’s Justice Guarantee, includes proposals to combat mass incarceration by ending the death penalty, the cash-bail system and minimum sentencing.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley Takes On Consequences Of 94' Crime Bill With New Criminal Justice Plan
This country's criminal INjustice system is racist, xenophobic, rogue & fundamentally flawed beyond reform.— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) November 14, 2019
Today, we are calling for a radical transformation rooted in decarceration: The People's #JusticeGuarantee ➡️ https://t.co/67rSvoSmt5 pic.twitter.com/MxdKetnOTo
The resolution was the result of the congresswoman's office working with more than 20 grassroots organizations and individuals negatively affected by the U.S. legal system, specifically Black and immigrant communities.
“The criminal justice system, at all levels, is stacked against communities of color, Black people and immigrants largely due to the racist policies that came out of the 1994 Crime bill and harsh immigration laws passed in 1996. It is time to roll those policies back and put an end to the criminalization of our communities of color,” said Patrice S. Lawrence, co-director of the UndocuBlack Network. “Communities of color, and Black people in particular, are racially profiled, are disproportionately arrested without cause and deported at higher rates than other immigrants."
Pressley hopes the new legislation will be a stepping stone toward reducing prison populations and dismantling the racially discriminatory systems that created them in the first place.
“For far too long, those closest to the pain have not been closest to the power, resulting in a racist, xenophobic, rogue, and fundamentally flawed criminal legal system,” Pressley said in the announcement of the resolution. “Our resolution calls for a bold transformation of the status quo—devoted to dismantling injustices so that the system is smaller, safer, less punitive, and more humane.”
The resolution also calls for marijuana legalization and has been held in high regard by Queens District attorney candidate Tiffany Caban and different progressive organizations, receiving endorsements from the American Civil Liberties Union, Color of Change, UndocuBlack and the National Immigrant Justice Center, among others.