Our criminal justice system is badly broken. Joe believes we need to pursue bold, systemic reforms to end mass incarceration and transform our system into one that prioritizes rehabilitation. That means addressing every piece of the system – from what we criminalize in the first place, to how we enforce the law, to alternatives we present to incarceration, to how we treat people in prisons, to how we rehabilitate and assist people re-entering society.
Joe believes true criminal justice reform must begin with recognizing the failures and consequences of the War on Drugs, particularly the devastating effects on communities of color. He supports federal legalization of marijuana and policies to expunge criminal records for people previously convicted of low-level drug offenses. Joe believes we must decriminalize poverty, mental illness, and homelessness, restructuring our law enforcement agencies to offer assistance to those who are struggling, rather than treating them as criminals. He supports policies to ensure that people are not detained based on a lack of financial resources alone, including ending cash bail, strengthening public defender services, and expanding access to legal counsel. He advocates for comprehensive reform to our law enforcement agencies, including policies to ensure robust oversight and accountability.
Criminal justice reform must also address sentencing policies, including a dramatic reduction in the use of mandatory minimums to ensure judicial discretion. To protect juveniles, Joe supports raising the age for criminal liability, expanding the use of youth offender courts, and eliminating life-without-parole sentences for minors. Joe advocates for more humane prison conditions, and supports banning private and for-profit prisons and ensuring that prison conditions facilitate a goal of rehabilitation. Finally, Joe believes we must improve access to crucial services that help people re-enter society after serving their time, including public housing, employment, transportation, education, and voting rights.