Sanders Unveils Plan to “Fundamentally Transform” Criminal Legal System

Decrying America’s status as the “world’s leading jailer,” Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday released a comprehensive plan to confront the crisis of mass incarceration, end the criminalization of poverty and dramatically overhaul the U.S. criminal legal system.

“We have a criminal justice system that is racist and broken, and working together we’re going to fundamentally transform it,” said Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

The platform, which Sanders is expected to unveil at an event in Columbia, South Carolina, on Sunday, condemns America’s “overly-punitive approach to public safety” and urges investments “to rebuild the communities that mass incarceration continues to decimate.”

Specifically, Sanders’ platform—detailed on his website—calls for:

  • A ban on private prisons as part of a broader effort to “end profiteering in our criminal justice system”;
  • An end to cash bail, which traps poor Americans in a cycle of debt;
  • Transformation of policing by ensuring oversight and accountability for law enforcement, banning use facial recognition software by law enforcement, and ending “programs that provide military equipment to local police”;
  • Abolishing the death penalty;
  • Legalization of marijuana and erasure of past marijuana convictions; and
  • An end to the criminalization of addiction by funding adequate treatment for those addicted to opioids.

“If we stand together, we can eliminate private prisons and detention centers. No more profiteering from locking people up,” Sanders plans to say during his speech in South Carolina.

“If we stand together we can end the disastrous ‘war on drugs,'” according to an excerpt released by his presidential campaign. “If we stand together we can end cash bail. No more keeping people in jail because they’re too poor. If we stand together we can enact real police department reform and prosecute police brutality. If we stand together, there is nothing, nothing, nothing that we cannot accomplish.”

Watch the speech, which is scheduled to begin at 2 pm ET: