Mass incarceration is the antithesis of building stronger families and communities in the district. The criminal and juvenile justice systems are among the biggest barriers to social justice and upward mobility; the taxpayers of Pennsylvania foot the bill. Pennsylvania spends more on prisons than on public higher education. While spending on higher education has fallen by 35% since 1990 (adjusted for inflation), the state’s prison expenditures have grown by 137%. This increase comes at the expense of other social services that Pennsylvanians rely on, including Medicaid for thousands of children. All the while, Pennsylvania’s public education system is suffering. Our state must shift from investing in punishment to investing in our children.
As Representative I will:
►Work to end the “school to-prison pipeline.” Our schools need to be a safe space for all students to learn and grow. Our current model of referring children to armed law enforcement on campus, and prosecuting them for schoolyard infractions feeds children into the prison industrial complex and limits their future prospects. Following the model of other states, we must ensure that suspension, expulsion, and incarceration are seen as the absolute last resort, and implement more restorative and effective practices.
►Oppose the reinstatement of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Our current representatives have failed to heed the lessons of the past three decades: that the strategy behind the “War on Drugs” is an unmitigated failure that has only torn families and communities apart. Mandatory minimums disproportionately affect black and poor communities, and only hinder efforts to combat the opioid crisis in our communities today. Our family members, friends, and neighbors who suffer from addiction don’t need harsh prison sentences; they need affordable and accessible medical care.
►Push for the elimination of cash bail. Our current system, which imprisons people based on their ability to pay, is a barbaric relic of the past. Pennsylvania can and should pass legislation, with bipartisan support, to end the practice of cash bail.
►Support a moratorium on new prison construction in Pennsylvania.