Five Key Points On Hillary Clinton’s Speech On Prison Reform And Race

Hillary Rodham Clinton, a 2016 Democratic presidential contender, speaks at the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum, Wednesday, April 29, 2015 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech on criminal justice reform on Wednesday went beyond a vague set of narrow policy changes on the prison system. Her speech also touched on not only the rioting in Baltimore but also the shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Tamir Rice in Ohio, and the problematic incarceration rates for African Americans.

Here are the five key points Clinton delivered in her speech:

We need to pay more attention to interactions with police

Clinton started off her speech by addressing the recent riots in Baltimore over the last week. She said this was the latest example of the many deaths of young black men related to confrontations with police.

“What we have seen in Baltimore should, and I think does, tear at our soul. From Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable,” Clinton said.

Clinton in her speech ticked off the names of similar deaths that caught national attention: Walter Scott in Charleston, South Carolina, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, Eric Garner in New York, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Police everywhere should wear body cameras

Clinton said that steps should be taken to make sure every police force in America has body cameras for their officers. This, Clinton said, would not prevent every confrontation gone wrong with police, but it would be a positive change.

“That will improve transparency and accountability, it will help good people on both sides of the lens,” Clinton said.

In December, in the wake of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, President Barack Obama urged Congress to authorize $75 million in funds to equip local police departments with body cameras.

Police militarization needs to stop

One of the most shocking aspects of the police crackdown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 in response to Brown’s death was the local police force’s use of military hardware. Police, Clinton said, shouldn’t have weapons or other military gear that isn’t necessary.

“Weapons of war have no place on the streets,” Clinton said.

Black incarceration is a serious problem in America

A major theme throughout Clinton’s speech was the shocking incarceration rates of African Americans in the United States. Clinton mentioned this just after she said the country has to face some “hard truths” about race 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.

America must end the ‘era of mass incarceration’

American prisons, Clinton said, are filled with people charged with low-level offenses. This is costly and damaging to American communities. The U.S., the former secretary continued, should look at “alternative punishments for low-level offenders” in order to end “the era of mass incarceration.”

“Of the more than two million Americans incarcerated today, a significant percentage are low-level offenders, people held for violating parole or minor drug crimes or who are simply awaiting trial in courts,” Clinton said. “Keeping them behind bars does little to reduce crime but it does a lot to tear apart families and communities.”

Latest Five Points

Notable Replies

  1. she touched on 2 of the most important parts, militarization of police and mass incarceration/unequal rates of jailed Black males. No need to be vague. she needs to be bold and brutally honest. call out the bad actors/ institutions that perpetuate this. she’ll have more supporters doing this. like dealing with a bully, fight back. we won’t irradiate racism which is the largest component but we need to fight for what is right, fight back against the unequal treatment of Black Americans.

  2. C’mon TPM…you’re very good at addressing nonsense like what I link below (but only when you’re paying enough attention to bother):

    Most of us understand that this shit is all nonsense and nontroversy, and can make pretty good arguments to that effct, i.e., that this is RWNJs morons playing semantic games that insist that “charity” is only when you give donations, not when you pay someone to actually do charitable work, but we don’t have time to dive into it and research just how deeply these misrepresentations and mischaracterizations go…or what elements of truth they latch onto as the toe-hold for their speculation and fabrication…such that we can combat them when we see them. Help us generate the arguments.

    That being said, if this kind of straining to manufacture accusations of and the public perception of pay-to-play and nefarious quasi-bribery is all they’ve got for 2016, then fucking christ are these idiots desperate.

  3. POINT SIX of Hillary Clinton’s Five Points:

    John Boehner single-handedly blocked the Jobs Bill, which, before the last election, could at least theoretically have passed the Senate.

    This has created a situation in which jobs and activity possibly helping desparate urban areas WERE BLOCKED.

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is more “shit just got real” than we’ve ever heard from Obama (at least on the stump).

  5. Its the rights mission to destroy governments credibility as a means to fix anything, and then point to democrats as the party of government.
    Kudos to Ms Clinton for standing up and addressing the problem, which is better than whats coming out of the WH or Congress. The punditry class is so out of touch its laughable.

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