2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg called for eliminating incarceration for drug possession offenses as part of his criminal justice reform plan released Saturday.
The South Bend, Indiana mayor rolled out his plan, titled “Securing Justice,” and is focused on “rebalancing” and “refocusing” the criminal system in the U.S., and reducing mass incarceration, as well as racial disparities.
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“It is past time to transform the criminal legal system to one that truly promotes justice, and benefits all of us,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg plans to reduce the number of people incarcerated in the U.S. at both the federal and state level by 50 percent. As part of that effort, Buttigieg said he would prioritize funding for programs aimed at pretrial reforms, decarceration, and expansion of alternative to incarceration programs.
As part of the incarceration reduction plan, Buttigieg said on the federal level, he would eliminate incarceration for drug possession, reduce sentences for other drug offenses, and apply the reductions “retroactively.” Buttigieg said he also would legalize marijuana and “expunge past convictions.”
Buttigieg’s plan also would eliminate mandatory minimums and would establish an “independent clemency commission” outside of the Justice Department.
In addition, Buttigieg said he would “abolish private federal prisons and reduce the use of private contractors,” as well as work with states to “cap the amount of revenue cities and counties receive from fines and fees.”
The plan would also aim to promote justice for youth, with federal support to state efforts to abolish yo8uth prisons and replace them with community-based programs. Buttigieg said he would invest in a new $100 million federal competitive grant program for states and localities to close those prisons, and “repurpose them to serve the needs of children.”
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Buttigieg also said he would support a constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty; while also ensuring that detention facilities have medical treatment and appropriate conditions for trans and gender non-conforming inmates.
Buttigieg is one of nine Democrats slated to speak at the Second Step Forum in Columbia, South Carolina on Saturday—a criminal justice reform forum.
2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is boycotting that event, after the organization gave President Trump an award for his successful passage of the “First Step Act,” which grants earlier release to thousands of nonviolent offenders who are currently serving time in federal prisons.
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The Trump criminal justice reform legislation received bipartisan support before Trump signed it into law.
Fox News’ Kelly Phares contributed to this report.