Commits $22.5 billion to reduce prison population by 50% by 2030, will slash youth incarceration by half in four years, and expands funding for public defenders
Invests $1 billion in programs to support young men of color and creates justice reclamation centers at historically black colleges and universities
NEW YORK — Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg today released his comprehensive plan to restructure our country’s criminal justice system. On December 3, 2019, Mike released three key pillars of his criminal justice reform policy as the first policy announcement of his campaign. In the 12 weeks since, the campaign and Mike have met with leaders, advocates, and activists to receive input and feedback, which culminates in today’s release of Mike’s full criminal justice reform platform. As president, Mike will end the era of mass incarceration by heavily investing federal resources to halve the prison population within the next decade, increase funding for public defenders, and confront deep-seated racial and economic inequities that fall largely on Black, Latino, and other underserved communities.
Mike’s plan promises to protect people at every touchpoint in the justice system, from innovative pre-trial efforts that stop the reliance on incarceration to addressing unjust and excessive sentencing in the courtroom, and from re-imagining our prisons as a place for rehabilitation to a new work program and robust services for people returning to their communities. Mike will also commit $22.5 billion over 10 years for reform at the state and local level, with a new Justice Reform Office at the Department of Justice to fund the most-needed reforms on a state-by-state basis.
“Our criminal justice system is broken and unjust. As president I’ll end the era of mass incarceration, ensure fairness and equality in our criminal justice system, and shift its focus from punishment to rehabilitation,” said Mike Bloomberg. “In New York City, our Administration reduced incarceration by nearly forty percent, and as president, I will work to cut incarceration in half by 2030 and cut youth detention in half by the end of my first term. We’ll invest in community-led programs to rebuild trust in our justice system, prevent discrimination against Americans who have served time and help them access jobs and opportunity – while ending cash bail, court fees, and other unfair practices that disproportionately impact low-income Americans. The time for comprehensive criminal justice reform is long overdue, and as president, I will get it done.”
Mike’s Plan to Reform America’s Criminal Justice System
The United States has a mass incarceration problem. The U.S. has 5% of the world’s people, yet confines nearly a quarter of the world’s prison population. America’s criminal justice system has dramatic racial disparities: Latino adults are three times more likely to be incarcerated than White adults, and Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population but are 40% of all incarcerated people. The system unfairly punishes people for their poverty, often further entrenching them in a vicious cycle of poverty and incarceration.
In Jackson, Mississippi last December, Mike pledged to prioritize juvenile justice, fund local violence interrupter programs, reform the bail system, and bring new re-entry and career-training programming to prisons. Mike’s full plan, announced today, will:
- Protect the public and rebuild community trust: Mike will invest in innovative community-led partnerships, focused deterrence programs and smart and just policing. Mike will sign a bill raising the standard for federal officers’ use of force, ensuring deadly force is used only when necessary to prevent serious injury or death — and will pressure states to enact similar statutes. He will require de-escalation and bias training, body-worn cameras and early intervention for police who present warning signs. He will promote independent police oversight boards, re-invigorate civil rights investigations to keep police accountable and make it a national priority to expand and analyze data on police use of force.
- Cut incarceration rates and re-imagine prison as a place for rehabilitation from day one: Mike will invest $22.5 billion to launch a Department of Justice reform hub to evaluate and fund state-level criminal justice reform efforts, set a goal to reduce incarceration by 50% by 2030 and cut crime across the U.S., and spread the use of alternatives to prison pioneered in New York City. Additionally, he will increase funding to improve health and safety in federal, state and local prisons, along with education and job training.
- Address injustice in the legal system: Mike will boost funding for public defense, end cash bail, court fines and punitive fees and roll back punitive sentencing practices. Public defense is underfunded in the states, leading to longer sentences and wrongful convictions. Mike will fund $2.5 billion over ten years for public defense – requiring grantees to have pay parity for defenders and prosecutors, as well as workload limits that ensure fair representation. He will also end federal cash bail, end court fines and punitive fees and propose new federal sentencing structure to reverse an overly punitive legacy. Mike’s plan will decriminalize possession and use of marijuana nationwide, commute any existing sentences and expunge any records.
- Help formerly incarcerated people re-enter society: Mike will start a federal work program for the formerly incarcerated, including providing employers with a multi-year tax incentive and expanding “ban the box initiatives.” He will bolster federal funding for re-entry services and also expand social services for children whose parents are incarcerated.
- Increase support and services for victims of domestic violence, gun violence, hate crimes and human trafficking: Mike will increase funding to build family justice centers, which provide holistic services for survivors of domestic violence—and make it easier for victims to seek justice. He will also re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act, with necessary improvements; eliminate the national rape kit backlog; start a national helpline for gun violence and make hate crimes and human trafficking a top federal priority.
- Invest in young men of color: Mike’s plan will invest $100 million annually to revive and sustain the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative as a federal program. Using the Neighborhood Equity and Opportunity Office (NEO), proposed in the Greenwood Initiative, Mike will launch a permanent funding stream to invest in young men of color. Building on the Young Men’s Initiative that Mike created as mayor, this national program will focus on creating opportunity while preventing entry into the criminal justice system. He will also establish a National Trauma-Informed Care Task Force to study the effects of early trauma – and to recommend practices to formalize the delivery of quality care across federal agencies that touch low-income families and justice-involved people.
- Create restorative justice centers at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs): Mike’s plan also includes funding justice reclamation centers at HBCUs across the country. Mike will set up a network of justice reclamation as hubs of history and public education that will chronicle an era, create the conditions for healing based on the best social science and devise constructive strategies for policing, remediation and community involvement. These centers will be a collaborative place to gather existing expertise and develop best new solutions — with a special focus on restorative justice. The centers will partner with local My Brother’s Keeper projects, helping give communities the tools to drive meaningful criminal justice reform.
Improving outcomes for communities unfairly targeted in the justice system must be part of larger systemic efforts to remove discrimination, segregation and barriers to economic mobility. For that reason, this plan is aligned with Mike’s Greenwood Initiative, which is designed to deliver economic justice for Black Americans by addressing systemic racial bias in this country. These efforts, in addition to Mike’s policies on education, health and housing, will help reverse historic under-investments in Black and other at-risk communities.
Mike’s approach to overhauling the country’s criminal justice system is based on his record as mayor, where under Mike’s leadership, New York City was the safest big city in America and saw historic drops in both crime and incarceration. Mike’s reforms and investments helped keep people out of the system and gave justice-involved individuals a better chance to move forward in their communities. Mike will bring that same approach to the White House. During his 12 years in office, Mike drove down crime by 32% and murders by half, and reduced incarceration by nearly 40%, even as incarceration rates rose in the rest of the country.
For additional information on Mike’s plan, see here.
Michael Nutter, Former Mayor of Philadelphia and National Political Co-Chair said, “I believe in a criminal justice system that keeps our communities safe, but also ensures a fair process for all those that go through it, and rehabilitation for those found to have committed wrongdoing. In a modern society, we should only be incarcerating people as a last resort and there are so many interventions we can make to keep people from ever entering the criminal justice system in the first place. I’ve talked with Mike Bloomberg about this, and he knows that we should be devoting more resources to vulnerable populations – and helping people overcome early trauma and see a path forward towards education and employment. Programs like The Young Men’s Initiative, which he created and personally funded as Mayor of New York City, is one example. And if we can scale more efforts like this to create opportunities for young men of color and prevent entry into the criminal justice system, I believe we will see a whole generation that is better off, happier, and more productive than the last.”
“I also stand behind Mike’s proposals to listen to people’s need for help and respond with social workers, not law enforcement, and to lean on credible messengers to help de-escalate crises before they turn violent. Plus, Mike’s commitment to ensuring independent oversight for law enforcement will go a long way towards ending the use of disproportionate force when police officers need to get involved. I’m glad to see a criminal justice reform policy that couples compassion with common sense, and I credit Mike for bringing both to the table here.”
“Mike Bloomberg’s plan to revamp the criminal justice system is a breath of fresh air,” said Michael Tubbs, Mayor of Stockton, California and National Campaign Co-Chair. “Mike knows we have to cultivate a more humane system across the country. It means supporting those who reenter society with opportunities for employment, housing and education to prevent recidivism; it means closing for-profit prisons and ending the school to prison pipeline; and it means abolishing the death penalty once and for all. Mike’s robust agenda touches on every aspect in need of fixing and would be a step forward for America.”
Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky and National Campaign Co-Chair said, “Once people have paid their dues in the criminal justice system, especially our youth, they should be given a second chance to become productive, thoughtful members of our communities. And to be successful, that rehabilitation should begin in prison. Mike shares those beliefs, and I’m glad to see his emphasis on mental health and drug treatment, and his commitment to funding education and vocational training – as well as pre-discharge job placement – so that we are preparing people for re-entry from day one. Life feels more hopeful when one can envision a promising future; by smoothing the path for reintegration into society, Mike’s plan will greatly improve the life outcomes of these Americans.”
Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington D.C. and National Campaign Co-Chair said, “Our criminal justice system is broken and Mike Bloomberg’s plan addresses and tackles the root causes of its problems. We need to ensure that every person has proper representation, implement meaningful programming during incarceration and make resources available to give returning citizens a fair shot. Mike believes in equal justice under the law and he will help reform and update our criminal justice system, so that every person who enters it has the best chance of a fair outcome.”
Frank Scott, Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas said, “As leaders, we need to lead with empathy and compassion. And this is why Mike Bloomberg’s investment in HBCUs is the right approach for our future. For over a century, HBCUs have housed conversations on restorative justice and equality. By allowing a safe space for us to learn in an academic setting built specific to shared experiences and needs, we ultimately create the door open for healing. I applaud Mike’s forward vision for making these academic centers a place for all of us to develop new practices, and pilot more strategies for community policing, remediation, and community involvement.”
“Mike Bloomberg has the knowledge, the experience and the vision to fix our broken criminal justice system,” said Congressman Ted Deutch [FL-22]. “From building bridges between our police and the communities they serve, to providing a leg up to the formerly-incarcerated, to improving our strained court systems, Mike has laid out a truly ambitious agenda to tackle one of the major challenges of our time.”
Congressman Gregory Meeks [NY-5] said, “As a former prosecutor, I know we have a tough path ahead in fixing our criminal justice system, but Mike’s vision is commensurate with the challenge and will provide relief to over-policed communities throughout the country.”
Vinny Schiraldi, Columbia University Professor and Former Commissioner of New York City Department of Probation said, “When Mike was Mayor of New York, both crime and incarceration for adults and juveniles dropped to historic lows. His smart and decent approach made New York the safest and least incarcerated big city in the country and his proposal to incentivize and hold states accountable for reducing both crime and incarceration promise to extend that practical thinking nationwide.”
“I welcome Mike’s thoughtful, valuable, and timely proposal to improve the lives of those incarcerated or formerly incarcerated and prevent others in unfairly targeted communities from becoming involved in the criminal justice system,” said JoAnne Page, Esq., Advisory Board Member of the Young Men’s Initiative. “During the years that Mike was mayor and to the present, I have seen him make deep governmental and personal commitments to improving the opportunities for success for people reentering society after incarceration, taking a leadership role in moving incarcerated young people closer to home, banning discrimination based on conviction record, and investing in educational and vocational advancement especially for young men of color. I would deeply welcome seeing this criminal justice proposal implemented because I believe that it would make a profound difference in improving the lives of people living in the communities impacted most heavily by crime and by the criminal justice system.”
Chandra Bozelko, award-winning writer who spent more than six years in Connecticut’s maximum-security York Correctional Institution said, “Mike Bloomberg’s criminal justice plan is a lesson in proximity. No other candidate has acknowledged, much less valued, the power of people directly impacted by the criminal legal system. I know that, as president, Mike won’t allow any policy to formed without the input of people who have lived experience with the subject matter. He is the only candidate who has promised a council of advisors that will include formerly incarcerated people. He’s the only candidate who acknowledges the power of credible messaging. As someone who spent more than six years in a maximum security prison and who was searched over 200 times inside, I know the harm that being policed can cause. I trust Mike Bloomberg because he recognizes people like me not as outcasts but as leaders. I know he values my vision and opinions and will listen when it’s time for him to make decisions.”
Abdul Malik, Executive Director of Families United for Social and Education Development and a Credible Messenger said, “In America, young people who get in trouble should be given a second chance and an opportunity to change themselves for the better. In New York, Mike Bloomberg proved that it’s possible and successful for communities to reduce the detention of juveniles and young adults, and allow them to stay close to home to continue their education and increase community-focused approaches as alternatives to prison. As president, Mike will bring these programs to the national level, bringing healing and a hopeful future for many Americans.”
“When you’re a convicted felon and you lose your rights, it often seems like it’s all over when you return home,” said Roger Foggle, a barber who was formerly incarcerated from Fort Worth, Texas. “Mike Bloomberg is a leader who puts people first and understands what our communities need. Mike’s plan ensures that men, women, and children in prison are put on a path for a second chance beginning on day one. It will also make sure they are ready for day one when they get out by providing them with meaningful training to get a secure job and providing Americans with the services they need to live comfortably and avoid sliding back into the system.”
Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director of Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies said, “If we are serious about lowering crime, mass incarceration, and violence against America’s most at-risk communities, we need pragmatic, community-focused leadership in the White House. Mike Bloomberg’s robust agenda will reduce the prison pipeline by investing in trauma support services, shrink systemic discrimination in underserved black and brown communities, and remove the formidable barriers to people achieving economic and social advancement.”
Yolanda Jimenez, Former Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence said, “Mike Bloomberg has a strong track record in investing in supportive services for our most vulnerable populations. His criminal justice agenda recognizes the need for health and housing assistance along with its family justice centers to support survivors of domestic violence. As mayor these centers provided services to over 250,000 clients and their children, and reduced family related homicides by over 20% in 10 years. As President, I know he will continue to protect survivors of violence throughout this country.”