The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday May 19th

Criminal defense reform enters presidential candidates' policies

Criminal justice reform has been a key political issue this election cycle, and following Keith Scott's death at the hands of Charlotte police late last month, presidential candidates have re-focused the topic. 

During a visit to Charlotte on Sunday, Clinton spoke to African-American community leaders, like C. Rashard Alexander, the minister of the Little Rock African Methodist Episcopal Zion church, as well as Mario Black, the co-founder of Million Youth March of Charlotte. She reaffirmed her commitment to advancing social and economic justice to the group.

According to the Clinton campaign’s website, her plan involves strengthening trust between communities and police, ending mass incarceration and easing the transition of those who have been recently released from prison. 

Donald Trump’s campaign website does not include specific plans for criminal justice reform; however, Trump has stressed the country’s need for law and order in recent speeches and the first presidential debate. 

Trump said in the debate that he intends to employ stop-and-frisk policies in urban areas like Chicago, which he said have been decimated with crime. 

Dawn Blagrove, assistant director of the non-partisan Carolina Justice Policy Center, said Trump’s plan lacks specifics. 

“We have reviewed both of the criminal justice plans offered by both candidates,” she said. “While Donald Trump has offered generalizations about what he plans to do, he has not presented — as far as we can tell — a platform of any kind with any detail or substance."

Blagrove said Clinton’s plan addresses many key issues her organization frequently encounters. 

“We are specifically excited about her plan to deal with the mental health crisis that impacts the criminal justice system across the country,” she said.

Rob Wall, director of the N.C. Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities, said he did not side with a particular candidate’s criminal justice plan. He said the purpose of his organization is to ensure that race is included in criminal justice policy discussions. 

“One first step that I think is really important is to establish the use of racial impact statements when making any kind of criminal justice policy decision,” he said.

Wall said racial impact statements are studies done by sentencing commissions that inform legislators about potential consequences new policies would have on racial minorities.

He said he feels racial impact statements should be included with any new criminal justice policies implemented in the state. 

Gary Pearce, a left-leaning N.C. political analyst, said although criminal justice is an important election issue, it might not actually swing any voters.

“Most people have made their mind up in this race, and — for the few people that are still floating out there — I don’t know that this will exactly be a deciding issue,” he said.


To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.


The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for March 7, 2022

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive