There are too many Americans who inhabit local and federal prisons throughout the country. Prisons ought to be for people who commit violent crimes, and currently, they are packed with people who have used drugs, sold drugs, and have committed other non-violent crimes.
When candidate Biden was running, I was less interested about his vice-president choice as I was to see who he would choose to be the attorney general due to the unrest that had occurred over the past few years. The increasingly polarized police force and their tactics were troubling to many Americans. His picking of Merrick B. Garland, a judge, was not an optimistic harbinger of societal change that I wanted to see.
A full review of federal prisons is needed. It is also necessary at the state level as well, though many governors will push back on these kinds of initiatives. Garland should put together a commission to review police policies and procedures in all states. This committee should also review legislation to see how laws on the books may be disproportionately affecting certain groups of people more than others. They should review case studies of crimes that are the same where one person receives more jail time than another person who committed the same crime.
The review would be not only to see if we can limit the number of inmates in prison for non-violent crimes but to also see what resources are lacking for police forces across the country. Some may think this process would be expensive, but I think the amount of money saved by not releasing non-violent prisoners will save government dollars. The committee may suggest we release prisoners who have completed a certain amount of their required time or review cases and provide a recommendation to reduce the patient population and save the taxpayers money to release all non-violent crime offenders.
I am an advocate for police and feel they are understaffed, undertrained, and underprotected. Let's make their jobs easier by giving them the money they need for their safety. Retraining is needed throughout the country and we should have a universal training program in certain areas such as minority interactions, mental health calls, defensive moves, and more.
Reform must come in the form of institutional reforms and well as employee training reforms. We can do this, but I do not know that anything will happen during the first term of the Biden presidency which is disappointing. We can only hope for reforms that help police and get prisoners back in the community with hopes that they will get their lives together.
Corey Carolina is an NSU graduate, North Tulsa entrepreneur and activist, and owner of Carolina Food Co. He is also an author, his first book being "The Absent Father."