ACLU Responds to President Biden’s Remarks Related to Public Safety

August 30, 2022 4:15 pm

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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — In a speech this afternoon, President Biden promoted his Safer America Plan, which includes provisions for adding 100,000 police to communities and provisions for funding alternatives to police.

Cynthia W. Roseberry, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Justice Division, issued the following response:

“Investing in communities and community safety is a forward-looking piece of the Safer America Plan. Recognizing that the criminal legal system is not built to address mental health needs and substance use disorders, the Safer America Plan proposes investments in alternatives to incarceration including mental health services, substance use treatment, crisis responders, and social workers. Recognizing that we need to create conditions that prevent violence, the Safer America Plan invests in housing, job training, better infrastructure, and violence interrupters. And importantly, recognizing that most formerly incarcerated people return to their communities, the Safer America Plan lowers barriers to re-entry so people can have a successful return home.

“Tragically, the Safer America Plan also doubles down on failed policies from the 1994 crime bill that accelerated mass incarceration. More police and harsher sentences for certain drugs didn’t make us safer then, and repeating those policies won’t make us safer now. Repeating those policies means continuing to deprive Black and Brown communities of safety, leading to police abuses, massive civil rights violations, and enormous racial disparities in the criminal legal system. Black and Brown communities live with these legacies, and these are the legacies we work to undo.

“We urge the president to abandon failed policies and instead act to repair the harm they caused by pursuing alternatives that contribute to community safety.”

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