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By Emily Seidel
This is a critical moment for our great country. How we collectively respond to the tragedies in Minneapolis and Georgia will determine whether we move closer to the ideals that inspired our nation’s founding: freedom, equal rights, and a deep belief that every person can contribute and succeed.
Americans for Prosperity exists to defend and advance those ideals. They are the bedrock of our organization’s vision. By empowering the voices of millions of people across all 50 states, we offer and support policy solutions that break the barriers that hold people back.
This work has perhaps never been as important as it is today, as our country grapples with injustice.
Because of our deep belief in people, we know that the best solutions come from the bottom up. That requires listening to each other – especially to those who are closest to the problems and the solutions. Today, that means listening to both the grassroots and local leaders in affected communities, as well as the men and women who wear a uniform and are sworn to protect the communities in which they live.
By and large, we have found that both groups want the same thing: safe communities where people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to develop their unique gifts and thrive. Both groups have also identified barriers that prevent that from happening.
Americans for Prosperity is committed to help break those barriers through a wide range of public policy reforms, including three core areas of criminal justice reform. While these aren’t new issues for our organization, they have a renewed importance and urgency:
1. Transform police culture. The vast majority of police officers and law enforcement leaders across the country – people who risk their lives to serve and protect their communities – know that policies around use of force must change. They are also rightly frustrated that many police union agreements protect bad actors from facing the consequences of their decisions.
2. Remove bad incentives such as civil asset forfeiture and qualified immunity, a judge-made law that prevents law enforcement officials who violate people’s constitutional rights from being held accountable for their actions. We must also reform the federal 1033 program that encourages police to treat communities like militarized combat zones rather than shared neighborhoods.
3. Eliminate unnecessary criminalization. As a society, we’ve criminalized poverty, addiction, mental health, and so many other issues – and we don’t even require adequate intent standards when charging and convicting people with crimes. In fact, over the past 40 years, we’ve added 300,000 federal crimes to the enforcement burden that police officers carry. We must enact robust federal and state overcriminalization reform.
In a pivotal and emotional moment in history, none of this will be easy.
But solutions are possible if – together – we embrace the wisdom of Frederick Douglass, which for years has guided our organization’s efforts in public policy:
“I would unite with anybody to do right, and with nobody to do wrong.”
Are you willing to take up his challenge? To lend your voice to advance these policy reforms? To drive meaningful change?
Join us in making critical reforms to the justice system so that our country can fully realize the promise of its beginning – equal rights for all.