July 29, 2021 14:59

Votes Signal ‘Meaningful … Criminal Justice Reform’

Election day votes on criminal justice issues this year show that Americans are open to rethinking how the justice system functions, concludes the Washington Post. “It was a pretty good day for meaningful change in criminal justice reform,” said Wake Forest University law Prof. Ronald Wright. Among many local measures, Oakland, Ca., created an inspector general’s office outside the police force to review officer misconduct, Columbus, Oh., voters created a civilian police review board and an inspector general. San Diego replaced a police review board with a commission that with subpoena power and the authority to investigate police misconduct. In Philadelphia, voters decisively supported ballot questions calling for police “to end the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk” and another supporting a police oversight commission.

A measure creating a police oversight board in Portland passed with 4 in 5 voters backing it. The police officer union filed a grievance, arguing that the city must negotiate changes to discipline with them first. In Seattle’s King County, voters made the sheriff an appointed, rather than elected, position, and let the county council dictate the duties. Oakland County, Mi., voters reelected a conservative sheriff but also a reform-minded prosecutor. George Gascón in Los Angeles County was one of at least 22 reform prosecutors elected in places including Orlando, Tucson, and Portland. Reform supporters were heartened by incumbent prosecutors who were reelected despite heavy opposition, including Chicago’s Kim Foxx and Mark Gonzalez in Corpus Christi, Tx. “That people watched how these prosecutors worked and saw what they can do, and then voted for four more years — it’s important,” said progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner in Philadelphia. “There is a grass-roots movement that is national.” He said reformers won in more diverse and smaller locations, pointing to the San Luis Valley of Colorado and four small Georgia counties.

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