Criminal Justice That Rebuilds Communities

We need a criminal justice system that creates trust and collaboration between our police department and the neighborhoods they serve, ensures that those with criminal records can return to lives of economic independence, and partners with communities to look out for the most vulnerable among us. I support an independent review board and significant resources for the existing Police Advisory Commission and a continued focus on community policing. Additionally:

End over-criminalization for those who need help and support. For too long, local prisons have been used as a substitute for effective care for those suffering from addiction or mental illness. This is both unjust, and a waste of public resources. We must ensure funding and access to innovative and targeted restorative justice programs, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and medical care in our communities with high poverty rates and for those most likely to offend or reoffend. We must take further steps to reverse the destructive effects of the ‘war on drugs,’ and allow our police to get back to community-based work of investigating and preventing crime.

A criminal record is not a sentence to a life of poverty.  We must take steps to ensure that citizens who have convictions or arrest records can achieve economically independent, fulfilling lives.

  • Ensure that all Philadelphians understand their right to expunge non-conviction arrest data, and support legal efforts to help them do so.
  • Enforce the city’s Ban the Box legislation, which helps provide fair access to job opportunities.
  • Increase job and educational opportunities to those with criminal records, including establishing a Fair Criminal Record Screening Advisory Committee, pursuant to legislation passed by City Council in 2011, and learning from successful re-entry programs that have significantly lowered recidivism and increased economic opportunity elsewhere.

End the systematic use of stop and frisk. We need to keep our police officers safe. However, Stop and Frisk has gone beyond a rarely-used tool for officer safety to a systematic law enforcement strategy that has been used in an impermissible, racially-discriminatory fashion; targets citizens without reasonable suspicion; and ultimately has limited success. As it currently stands, “stop and frisk” creates distrust between law enforcement and our communities and demoralizes entire neighborhoods, and young men of color in particular. As your City Councilwoman I will work to end this policy.

Reform the abuses of civil forfeiture. The District Attorney’s civil forfeiture abuses have reached national attention. Citizens’ money and homes are seized without any convictions, and often without any criminal charge. Those seeking to have their money and properties returned are then put through a gauntlet of intimidating, intrusive litigation. Moreover, the D.A.’s office shields its forfeiture proceeds from regular oversight. As your Councilwoman, I will use budgetary oversight over the District Attorney to demand a system where the use of civil forfeiture is an exception, and, like most counties in our state, property is forfeited only when there has been an actual conviction.

Look out for the most vulnerable. There is an epidemic of citizens–particularly the elderly and those with limited English language proficiency–taken advantage of for financial gain by predatory scam artists.  Be it deed thieves or unlicensed home contractors and mortgage brokers who take money for little services, scam artists that prey on our vulnerable citizens must be stopped. We must better train police to spot these crimes, and provide funds for the District Attorney to expand investigation and prosecution.