Hillary Clinton is ready to talk about what she’ll do if she becomes president, and she’s starting with one of the most important issues of our time: changing the criminal justice system and fighting mass incarceration. In a speech Wednesday in New York City, Clinton laid out her plan for overhauling the system. “We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America,” she said. Clinton wants every police department in the country to use body cameras to “improve transparency and accountability” around law enforcement. She also called for increases to mental health services and drug treatment programs, more options for dealing with low-level offenses, and a changed probation system. The democrat also spoke about the ongoing protests and unrest in Baltimore and the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old whose spine was mysteriously severed after his arrest on April 12. “The violence has to stop, but let’s remember that everyone in the community benefits where everyone has respect for the law, and everyone is respected by the law,” she said. Clinton did not shy away from the racism and injustice that plays a fundamental role in deciding who bears the greatest burden in the system. “From Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable,” Clinton said, according to a Guardian report of the speech. “Walter Scott shot in the back in Charleston, South Carolina…Tamir Rice, shot in a park in Cleveland Ohio…Eric Garner, choked to death after being stopped for selling cigarettes.”
It’s impossible to go more than a few days without seeing another example of unfairness in the status quo. From the protests in Baltimore to pardons for non-violent drug offenders to the debate over whether lethal injection is an inhumane punishment, discord reaches every corner of the American justice system. While Bill Clinton was president, he presided over “tough on crime” policy changes that caused the U.S. prison population to explode. “We have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance and these recent tragedies should galvanize us as a nation to find our balance again,” Clinton said. African Americans are incarcerated at a rate six times higher than white Americans, and Black Americans are four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites despite the fact that both groups use the drug at the same rate. Clinton, the democratic frontrunner, is not the only presidential candidate to support criminal justice reform. Republican Rand Paul made it one of his signature issues during his time in the Senate.