Bernie Sanders lost narrowly to Hillary Clinton in Nevada, but he stuck to his common themes in his concession speech, including criminal justice reform. Senator Sanders again stressed the absurdity of people getting criminal records for marijuana offenses while Wall Street crooks don’t suffer any punishment. Former Secretary of State Clinton also mentioned criminal justice reform in her victory speech. Senator Sanders has criticized Clinton for not being progressive enough on cannabis law reform.
Any serious criminal justice reform must include removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. #DemForum
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 12, 2016
The anti-establishment Sanders was more explicit in his denunciation of our current system:
“We have a broken criminal justice system. A system which says that today some kid in Nevada or Vermont gets picked up with some marijuana, that kid will have a police record staying with him his entire life. But if you are a Wall Street executive and your illegal behavior destroys the economy and the lives of millions of people, somehow nothing happens to you. And our job is to bring justice back to the criminal justice system.”
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic-establishment-favored-frontrunner, listed criminal justice during a laundry list of issues she will tackle as president:
“And don’t you think it’s time to face head-on the problem of systemic racism and invest in communities that have been left out and left behind? That means reforming our criminal justice system, our immigration system, ensuring that people with disabilities have the same opportunity to work and fully participate in our society. It means to make sure that nothing holds you back, not debt, not discrimination, not a deck stacked for those at the top.”
We need to fix our criminal justice system and address substance use disorders. Prison is not a substitute for treatment. #DemTownHall
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 4, 2016
Ending the era of mass incarceration will continue to be a major focus of the campaign, especially as the two Democrats vie for African American support as black communities have been decimated by the Drug War and our nation’s flawed criminal justice system. Senator Sanders made significant gains among most demographics, including Hispanics, in Nevada as he was trailing by more than 20 points about a month ago, but Clinton’s support from black voters held strong enough to carry her to victory in the Silver State.
— Millennials 4 Bernie (@Bernlennials) February 20, 2016
While Michelle Alexander, Ben Jealous, Cornel West and other black civil rights activists argue that Bernie Sanders has the better policies to improve the lives of African Americans, we shall see if Sanders has enough time to turn the tide with black voters as the race moves into South Carolina and throughout the South. We will certainly hear a lot about Bernie Sanders racial and criminal justice platform as well as his long history fighting for civil rights over the coming weeks.