One of the Central Park 5 teens wants people to take a closer look at the presidential candidates’ criminal justice reform records.
Yusef Salaam is one of the five teenagers involved in the Central Park jogging case. Salaam was falsely accused and imprisoned for the rape of a white woman in April 1989. Now at the age of 45, as a famous example of the flaws within the prison industrial complex, he is considering which presidential candidate to support based on their criminal justice reform record.
“The biggest thing I’m looking for is their track record,” Salaam said of the 2020 Democratic candidates for president, HuffPost reported. “If they have any past dealings with the criminal justice system, that tells us a lot.”
Although Salaam did not name anyone, in particular, to consider or avoid supporting in the race, some of the remaining candidates, most of whom are white people, have a questionable track record regarding how Black people get treated by law enforcement.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is a defender of his involvement with the controversial 1994 crime bill, saying his legislation's gun control provisions helped him "beat the NRA," The Hill reported.
Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg served during a time when Black people were four times more likely to get arrested than white residents for marijuana possession, HuffPost reported. This is in spite of the Black population in South Bend being less than 27%, and the White population being a little more than 62%, according to Area Vibes.
Most noticeably with the most unsettling past with criminal justice reform is Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a former prosecutor in Minneapolis. As Blavity previously reported, she has been receiving demands by Black social justice advocates to suspend her candidacy because of her prosecution of a Black teen named Myon Burrell that led to him getting life behind bars.
This case in 2002 haunts Klobuchar to this very day. In a recent episode of The View, Sunny Hostin, a former prosecutor, called out the Minneapolis candidate unexpectedly.
There are candidates who are proposing policy geared toward ending the mass incarceration of Black people. Take Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders for example.
Warren said she wants to reduce incarceration and loosen up “tough on crime” policies in her criminal justice reform proposal, Vox reported in regards to her initiative to promote public safety.
Sanders, a noted supporter of civil rights movements, called for an end to cash bail across the country at the Democratic debate in New Hampshire last Friday night, saying it has a negative effect on minorities.
"Most people don’t know this. Tonight in America, 200,000 people are in jail without having been convicted of anything. Two hundred thousand people — because they can’t afford the 500 bucks they need to get out of jail,” Sanders said according to the New York Post.“That is outrageous. We are going to end cash bail in America.”