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Trump administration charts a course to criminal injustice

MARC H. MORIAL | 6/5/2017, 12:44 p.m.
“At a time when people across the aisle have finally found some of the modest, yet promising, agreement that we ...

And we should go a step further. How about working to keep as many people as we can out of the clutches of our broken, racially and socio-economically unjust criminal justice system in the first place? As a nation, we must agree to prioritize prevention and address crime before it happens. That means looking at – and effectively treating – the root causes of crimes. It means, among other things, housing the homeless, removing the heavy price tag and stigma around mental health and mental health services, feeding the hungry, ensuring a quality education in every zip code, and providing work tied to living and gender equitable wages.

The Department of Justice is moving in the wrong direction, and a course correction is critical. The resistance, in all its forms and arenas, remains firm, especially among the states, which bear the fiscal brunt of policies that call for the indiscriminate filling of jails cells at a heavy cost to their budgets and the safety of their citizens. A growing number of states are reluctant to follow the Department of Justice’s lead, and we hope more states come to the realization that crime can be reduced through a variety of methods that don’t involve throwing the book at people who can be rehabilitated, while keeping the public safe.

We must resist the rollback. We must retreat from the failed policies of the past, not return to them.

Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League.