Vowing to “end the era of mass incarceration,” presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for sweeping changes to the criminal justice system today as well as a recognition of “hard truths” about race and law enforcement tactics nationwide. “Everyone in every community benefits when there is respect for the law and when everyone in every community is respected by the law,” she said at Columbia University. NBC News reports. Listing unarmed black men who have died after altercations with law enforcement — including Freddie Gray, whose death while in police custody led to riots in Baltimore — Clinton said that the deaths should “galvanize” Americans to fight for change.
Calling President Obama’s commission on police reform “a good place to start,” Clinton laid out a series of policy proposals, including a call for body cameras for every police department. “That will help protect good people on both sides of the lens,” she said. She suggested that federal funds should be used to bolster public safety, not for “weapons of war that have no place on our streets.” She pushed for more resources to treat mental health issues and drug addiction, saying that “our prisons and our jails are now our mental health institutions.” Her statement about ending “the era of mass incarceration” is an implicit rebuke to one Bill Clinton’s policy legacies, backing a crime law in 1994 that encouraged states to build prisons.