County Board Endorses Chairwoman Nicholson’s Call for Criminal Justice Reform
MILWAUKEE – The Board of Supervisors endorsed federal legislation today that would begin to repair the harmful, ineffective, and wasteful aspects of mass incarceration – linked to the passage of the 1994 federal crime bill – by transforming the nation’s criminal justice system to promote shared power, freedom, equality, safety, and human dignity.
Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson proposed the county resolution in support of a federal bill from Massachusetts Representative Ayanna Pressley, known as the People’s Justice Guarantee (H. Res 702, 116th Congress, 1st Session). Pressley’s bill calls for wholesale reform of the criminal legal system, including mass decarceration at the local, state, and federal levels, and for repealing the failed policies of the so-called war on drugs and 1994 crime bill.
“The effects of failed policies like the 1994 crime bill are plain to see: billions of dollars wasted on building prisons, millions of lives ruined by unjust prison sentences, and countless families torn apart by mass incarceration. It’s long past time to shift our public dollars away from building prisons and locking people up, and towards education, school counseling, after-school programs, and restorative justice,” said Nicholson.
Nicholson’s resolution highlights the fact that the 1994 crime bill led to billions of dollars in spending on prison construction, “putting tremendous pressure on State and local municipalities by adding additional budgetary constraints,” and much less spent on preventing violent crimes against women or funding drug courts, mental health clinics, youth programs, supportive housing, or promoting employment and entrepreneurship.
The adopted resolution calls upon the US Congress to pass, and the President to sign, the People’s Justice Guarantee, “legislation that would acknowledge the harms and ineffectiveness of mass criminalization and mass incarceration, and begin to repair the damage wrought by the 1994 Crime Bill, and the punitive, expensive, violent, and racist systems of criminalization, by investing in the health and well-being of communities and our nation.”