Bloomberg proposes ending cash bail for many ‘non-violent’ crimes
Michael Bloomberg proposed a criminal justice plan Tuesday to dramatically slash the number of inmates behind bars if elected president — including by eliminating cash bail for many “non-violent” criminal defendants, an issue that is raging now in New York.
Bloomberg, stumping in Jackson, Miss., said he would provide federal “incentives” or aid to states that reduce or eliminate the use of cash bail for non-violent offenders.
He would also increase funding for localities that adopt policies that allow judges to provide“low-risk” defendants alternatives to detention pending trial.
Bloomberg also vowed to slash youth incarceration rates in half by the end of his first term by increasing federal grants to cities and states that implement alternative programs that divert youth offenders from lock-up facilities.
Bloomberg, who apologized last month for the NYPD’s expansive stop and frisk policies during his three terms as New York City mayor, boasted that incarceration rates plummeted by nearly 40 percent under his watch and more youths were diverted from jail.
“I’m running for president to fix our country’s most difficult problems — including ending the era of mass incarceration, which has needlessly destroyed millions of lives,” Bloomberg said.
“The initiatives we announced today will be an important first step toward building a fairer, better country. We cut incarceration by 39 percent in New York City, while also cutting crime to record lows — and we can do the same nationally.”
Bloomberg said he backed the “First Step Act” approved by President Trump that reduced some sentences for certain crimes. But he said he would go further.
“The Justice Department should provide incentives for states to experiment with and evaluate the impact of shorter sentences,” he said.
Bloomberg is no stranger to Jackson. Bloomberg Philanthropies awarded the city a $1 million arts grant last year.
The event he spoke at was billed as a roundtable on criminal discussion, co-hosted by Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, at the Smith Robertson Museum. It was closed to the press.
Bloomberg again apologized for the city’s stop and frisk policy when he was mayor. Black residents make up 80 percent of the population of Jackson and Lumumba is black.
“No one should ever feel targeted or judged by the color of their skin,” Bloomberg said before the event, with Lumumba sitting next to him.
Lumumba said he appreciated Bloomberg’s mea culpa.
“We brought up and talked about the idea of the stop and frisk. I made it clear that that is not a practice that I was supportive of. And I am grateful that he has acknowledged that wasn’t the proper course of action,” Lumumba said.
“And so for me, when I look at leadership i not only look at individuals who can celebrate their accomplishments but those individuals who can also be intro enough to say maybe this wasn’t the best way to move forward.”
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