Criminal Justice

“Outdated, ‘tough on crime’ laws have contributed to mass incarceration and racial injustices in our criminal justice system. We need ‘smart on crime’ policies that promote safety and justice at a lower cost to all.”
–Bryan Townsend

The United States currently imprisons more people than any other country in the world. Fortunately, we have not always been a nation focused on imprisonment, and there are steps we can take in a more effective, moral direction.

Mandatory minimum drug sentences have been one of the root causes of mass incarceration.  Coupled with disparate policing and prosecutorial decisions, America’s prison population has quadrupled since 1980 and its racial composition has become deeply unequal. Today, 60 percent of the 2.2 million Americans in prison are minorities.  One of every three black men will spend a portion of his life in prison.

These statistics are sobering, not merely because of their magnitude, but because of their broader implications. Families – and indeed broader communities – are becoming destabilized by our propensity to punish nonviolent crimes with lengthy prison sentences.  Tax dollars are spent inefficiently on incarceration rather than efficiently on rehabilitation, treatment, and empowerment.  When it comes to both enforcement of our laws and to sentencing, there is increasing evidence that minorities do not have the same access to justice as other Americans.

In Congress, Bryan Townsend will fight for the same kind of criminal justice reforms he has advocated in the Delaware State Senate. In the Senate, Bryan:

  • fought hard to end mandatory minimum sentences and to give judges more flexibility in sentencing;
  • helped address drug abuse from a medical perspective rather than a criminal one;
  • championed legislation that helped break down barriers for inmates transitioning successfully back into the community and employment;
  • sponsored legislation decriminalizing marijuana, with fines replacing jail time for recreational use;
  • voted to study equipping police officers across Delaware with body cameras; and
  • voted to repeal the death penalty, which, among its flaws, is disproportionately applied to minorities and the poor.