Criminal justice reform is always an important staple in our legislative agenda and this year is no different. In years past, we’ve advocated for truancy reform, implementing community-based programs as an alternative to costly and ineffective out-of-home placement for juveniles, restorative justice for hate crimes, legalization of marijuana, and providing second chance opportunities for ex-offenders to name a few. Below are the three biggest criminal justice issues we’re working on this legislative session:
Our jails are overcrowded with people who have not been convicted of any crime. They are sitting there on our state’s dime awaiting trial simply because they are too poor to make bail. People are presumed innocent and bail is not designed to be a punishment. It is meant to ensure that they will show up for trial. We should not be jailing people who have been convicted of no crime merely because they are poor. Therefore, we’re pushing a bill that will release the unnecessary pressure on our jail system by providing the court system with guidelines to determine if a cash bail is needed at all in a particular instance. We are hoping to reform the criminal justice system at the very start.
Civil Asset Forfeiture: HB 4615
Did you know police departments across the state can take your possessions or money without a conviction–without even charging you with a crime–and force you to take them to court in order to try to get them back? Shockingly the police departments get to keep part of the proceeds of the forfeited property, which gives them a perverse incentive to abuse the process. Our bill fights back against this system in hopes of protecting your property and prevent police departments from profiting from seizure.
IDs for Ex-Offenders: HB 2727
For many people leaving prison, obtaining a state ID card is an incredible challenge. They may not have the required documents and may have difficulty obtaining them. And without an ID, it is incredibly difficult to get a job or housing. We should make it as easy as possible for ex-offenders to reintegrate into society. Therefore, we are supporting HB 2727, which would ensure that every person would have an ID when released from prison.