Criminal Justice


Joe Biden (D)

• Prioritize prevention and rehabilitation in the criminal justice system
• Reduce the number of incarcerated people and reinvest the savings in federal spending in communities impacted by mass incarceration
• Create a new $20 billion grant program to invest in efforts proven to reduce crime and incarceration, like addressing factors such as illiteracy and child abuse
• Decriminalize marijuana and expunge all prior marijuana use convictions
• Believes legalizing marijuana should be left up to the states
• End all incarceration for drug use alone and instead divert individuals to treatment
• End the federal crack and powder cocaine disparity
• Use the president's clemency power to secure the release of individuals facing unduly long sentences for certain non-violent and drug crimes
• Eliminate mandatory minimums
• End cash bail
• Eliminate the death penalty
• Eliminate private prisons
• Empower the US Department of Justice to hold police departments accountable for abuses
• Stop jailing people for being too poor to pay fines and fees
• Restore Pell Grant access to people who are incarcerated
• Set a national goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals have housing upon reentry
• Invest in public defenders' offices to ensure defendants' access to quality counsel
• Ensure human prison conditions by ending the practice of solitary confinement and requiring states to fix health problems such as a lack of clean water and clean air
• Increase spending on juvenile justice from $60 million to $1 billion
• Create a new grant to encourage states to place non-violent youth in community-based alternatives to prison
• Require states to keep juvenile records private so that minors have a real chance to reach their full potential as adults
• Counter the rise in hate crimes


Michael Bloomberg (D)

• Believes legalizing marijuana should be left up to the states
• Has expressed regret about the implementation of the "stop-and-frisk" policy by the New York Police Department
• Cut the number of incarcerated people in half
• Focus on combating the high incarceration rate that disproportionately impacts people of color
• Reform or reduce cash bail
• Repeal the ban on access to Pell Grants for incarcerated persons
• Proposes a federal program to allow former prisoners to find paid work by incentivizing states and employers to hire them
• Fund alternative placement programs and risk-assessment tools to limit the number of detained youths waiting for trial


Pete Buttigieg (D)

• Reduce the number of people incarcerated in the U.S. by 50%:
• Double federal grants for state programs aimed pretrial reform, reducing the incarcerated population, and expanding alternative to incarceration (ATI) programs
• Supports legalizing marijuana federally and expunging past convictions
• Eliminate incarceration for drug possession and reduce sentences for other drug offenses
• Eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing, private prisons, and cash bail
• Cap the amount of revenue cities receive from fines and fees so that police can focus on protecting public safety rather than raising revenue
• Push to eliminate incarceration as punishment for failing to pay legal financial obligations, such as court debts or fines
• Protect people’s freedom from old criminal justice practices:
• Abolish the death penalty through a constitutional amendment
• Reduce our reliance on solitary confinement and abolish its prolonged use
• Ensure people who are incarcerated have access to education, health care, and rehabilitation and can integrate into society:
• Restore Pell Grant access to people who are incarcerated
• Remove the Medicaid exception for incarcerated people
• Empower states to provide better opportunities for individuals to prepare for life after incarceration
• Supports "Ban the Box" laws
• Grant all formerly incarcerated people the right to vote
• Establish comprehensive measures to hold police accountable to their communities and investigate civil rights violations


Tulsi Gabbard (D)

• Supports legalization of marijuana federally
• Reduce mandatory minimum sentencing
• Remove marijuana-related convictions from criminal records
• Improve the juvenile justice system
• Grant all formerly incarcerated people the right to vote
• Abolish the death penalty
• Abolish cash bail
• End the War on Drugs
• Eliminate private prisons


Amy Klobuchar (D)

• Supports legalization of marijuana federally
• Supporter of strict criminal justice reform
• Grant all formerly incarcerated people the right to vote
• Abolish the death penalty
• Reform cash bail
• Reduce mandatory minimum sentencing
• Phase out the use of private prisons
• Crack down on money laundering and tax evasion
• Strengthen prosecution of white-collar criminals


Bernie Sanders (D)

• End the War on Drugs
• Legalize marijuana in the first 100 days with executive action
• Vacate and expunge all past marijuana-related convictions
• Ensure that revenue from legal marijuana is reinvested in communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs
• Prohibit marijuana products and labels that target young people
• End the federal crack and powder cocaine disparity
• Abolish cash bail
• Eliminate private prisons
• Abolish the death penalty
• End all mandatory minimums and reinstate the federal system of parole
• Ensure people leaving incarceration or participating in diversion, community supervision, or treatment programs can do so free of charge
• Supports "Ban the Box" laws
• Supports voting rights for felons currently in jail and for felons who've been released
• Address the lack of criminal liability for civil rights violations resulting from police misconduct


Tom Steyer (D)

• Supports largely eliminating the cash bail system and have courts instead rely on pretrial assessments of an offender's danger to public safety


Donald Trump (R)

• Signed bipartisan criminal justice legislation giving judges greater discretion over sentencing, protecting first-time offenders from harsh minimum sentences, and improving criminal rehabilitation efforts
• Believes in closing off Mexican border to stop flow of drugs
• Previously stated support for death penalty for drug traffickers
• Created task force alongside Homeland Security aimed at reducing crime and increasing public safety
• Supports allowing states to decide whether they want to legalize marijuana


Joe Walsh (R)

• Supports reforming the criminal justice system, but has not detailed any specifics


Elizabeth Warren (D)

• Supports legalization of marijuana federally and expunging past convictions
• Repeal the 1994 crime bill
• Abolish the death penalty
• Abolish cash bail
• Eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing
• Improve prison conditions and eliminate private prisons
• End solitary confinement
• Eliminate the crack and powder cocaine disparity
• Grant all formerly incarcerated people the right to vote
• Stop charging incarcerated people for essential services like phone calls, bank transfers, and health care
• Eliminate civil forfeiture
• End the use of fines and fees that criminalize the poor
• End stop-and-frisk programs
• Create cross-community partnerships and focused deterrence on the small percentage of people most likely to commit violence
• Strengthen public defenders and expand access to counsel
• Expand access to justice for people wrongfully imprisoned
• Establish a federal standard for the use of force and restrict qualified immunity for police officers
• Prioritize diversion and treatment programs over incarceration for those with a substance abuse disorder


Bill Weld (R)

• Supports prosecution of law enforcement for civil rights violations
• Believes addiction should be treated as a national public health emergency
• Favors treatment for drug addicts rather than criminal sentencing
• Supports funding for re-entry programs and bail reform
• Supports legalization of marijuana, particularly for medicinal purposes