Guest blog post by Danni Yost, Volunteer Coordinator. 


       Criminal Justice reform is not just about lowering the number of persons incarcerated. It’s about fixing the larger systemic issues that have allowed mass incarceration and the war on drugs to prosper in the name of justice.  For years, politicians have held firm in their “get tough on crime” policies without seeing any positive results. It’s time we get smart on crime.

       We know that upwards of 95% of persons incarcerated will be released. Yet, with the privatization of prisons and cuts to prison programming, we can almost guarantee that those released will eventually be re-incarcerated. By focusing on rehabilitation/transformation and treatment we can begin to fix the root issues that are plaguing our communities. Racism and implicit bias cause persons of color to be represented at each stage of the criminal justice system at much higher rates than whites. Poor people who cannot afford bail often sit in jails waiting for a trial, while white collar criminals are still free to serve on corporate boards and as CEOs.

       We need to invest in community relations, training based in de-escalation tactics, and treatment through mental health institutions. We need to stop policing drugs and start to focus on the causes and treatments of addiction. We must end the privatization of prisons and legalize marijuana. We have to provide funding, not militaristic weapons, to police departments for body cameras, effective training, and evidence-based reentry programs.

       This article shares some current federal legislation that has been successfully implemented across a couple states. We can reduce crime and tax payer dollars by effectively reforming a broken system. Our constituents have been asking for it, it is far time we listened and delivered.

What ideas, comments, concerns or questions do you have that can help solve this issue?

Danni Yost serves as the Volunteer Coordinator & Field Director for the Nick Schiller for Congress campaign. Danni received her Masters in Criminal Justice in 2016 from Grand Valley State University, further building on her undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Women & Gender Studies.