Platform 2014: Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

Crime prevention and rehabilitation are essential to our families, our communities, and our state's budget. Current law enforcement-supported research demonstrates that, historically, a ten percentage-point increase in graduation rates correlates with a twenty percent reduction in murder and assault rates.  In light of this, we support increasing high school graduation rates through evidence-based methods that include structured pre-school for all, anti-truancy measures, and after-school programs.  We are dedicated to ensuring that our criminal justice system provides fair and equitable treatment for all.  "Smart on crime" must include evidence-based criminal justice prevention programs as the best use of taxpayer funds.

To promote safe communities, California Democrats will:

  • Provide state-of-the-art equipment and training in the latest crime fighting techniques to law enforcement;
  • Enhance victim-witness advocacy that respects the rights of crime victims and provides therapeutic assistance and financial compensation, and support comprehensive services for the victims of crime;
  • Support the establishment of a non-partisan sentencing commission to review inequitable sentencing laws;
  • Work to reduce prison overcrowding and the drain on our economy by decreasing penalties for minor drug offenses, implementing state law provisions for compassionate release and releasing older and low-risk, long-term prisoners, and support community service as an alternative sentence for non-violent offenders;
  • Implement community-based policing to break down barriers between law enforcement officers and the people they serve; support community-based groups to work within existing social and criminal justice programs to foster communication with law enforcement; and, require greater accountability from law enforcement organizations to the communities they serve;
  • Work with gun owners and sporting associations to promote responsible gun ownership and gun safety education;
  • Strengthen efforts to keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals; strictly limit access to firearms for those with a record of domestic violence and/or mental health issues; require that all stolen, lost, or misplaced firearms be reported to law enforcement immediately;
  • Continue to support the common sense ban on deadly assault weapons;
  • Improve methods for recovering financial losses in the prosecution of white-collar crimes;
  • Support strong protections for all Americans who lawfully disclose waste and fraud in government spending, violations of law or threats to the public health and safety by providing all whistleblowers with adequate remedies for unlawful retaliation, and rewards for employees who risk their careers by disclosing such activity;
  • Protect consumers against identity theft and violations of privacy and require disclosure by businesses and government of what personal information is collected and how that information is used;
  • Support the use of DNA testing when appropriate to protect the wrongfully accused and set free the wrongfully convicted;
  • Prohibit the use of so-called "secret evidence" in courts and tribunals;
  • Challenge the practice of profiling, from detainment through charging and sentencing;
  • Resist the establishment of "Stand Your Ground" laws in the State of California and the implementation of "stop and frisk" policies that are disproportionately applied to persons of color;
  • Oppose using prisons and jails as de facto mental health facilities and fight to adequately fund community mental health and substance abuse programs;
  • Promote strong families and communities by reducing prison recidivism and making rehabilitation, education, and job readiness priorities within our state prison system;
  • Promote dialogue that examines decreases in public school funding and concomitant prison expansion in California, and support efforts to address high school dropout rates;
  • Oppose privatization of prisons;
  • Advocate that the state adopt concrete measures to eliminate the use of solitary confinement;
  • Support the development and implementation of restorative justice that bring together offenders, victims, and community members in a effort to repair the damage caused by criminal activity through accountability and rehabilitation;
  • Oppose sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (LWOP);
  • Support abolishing capital punishment; and,
  • Support the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana, in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol.