Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration – a bipartisan group of top law enforcement officers – released their preferred criminal justice agenda for President Trump’s administration.
The group, co-chaired by former police chiefs Ronal Serpas and David Brown, is comprised of nearly 200 current and retired police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, and attorneys general from all 50 states. “Our group urges changes to laws and practice that more effectively fight crime while reducing unnecessary imprisonment,” said the group.
“We urge President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to join and take leadership roles in the ongoing cross-partisan efforts to reform our justice system,” read the foreword penned by Serpas and Brown.
The first recommendation from the organization is for the new administration to prioritize resources to combat violent crime. Although violent crime rates remain low across the board, individually, many of America’s major cities are seeing increases in homicides and non-fatal shootings.
The president has vowed to propose legislation called the Restoring Community Safety Act to tackle three specific areas. RCSA would create a crime task force, increase local police funding, and increase resources to target gangs.
However, the group says this initiative and others proposed by the president do not specifically target violent crime, which they consider the most serious threat to public safety. They want any legislation or initiative from Washington to be specific and targeted.
The group also supports reducing unnecessary incarceration as well as federal sentencing reform.
Considering the bloated prison population as well as rampant over-criminalization, they said “sentencing laws too often require excessively lengthy punishments for many crimes.”
Looking towards reforms that states have made, they pointed to Michigan’s elimination of mandatory sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses, and South Carolina’s abolishing mandatory minimums for drug possession, and other minor offenses. After initiating reforms, those states saw a 14 and 9 percent prison population reduction respectively.
The group urged the passage of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a bipartisan congressional effort that stalled because of some notable opposition, including then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama).
“We urge President Trump to join the bipartisan effort to reduce unnecessary incarceration by making it a priority for his Administration and the country.”
Increased mental health and drug treatment tops the list of reforms as well.
On the local level, many sheriffs and police chiefs consider themselves the largest mental health providers in their jurisdictions because of the number of inmates they have suffering from any number of ailments. “Today, there are ten times as many people with serious mental illnesses in prisons as in hospitals,” read the report.
To combat this problem, they want the Justice Department to prioritize grants to state and city agencies that divert nonviolent, mentally ill, and addicted offenders to treatment rather than incarceration.
Community policing was the fourth recommendation made to the administration. This platform is especially important since co-chairman David Brown is the former Dallas police chief, and made community policing a central tenet of his tenure.
In making the argument for increased funding for community policing, the group addressed a report that claimed the President planned on cutting all funds to the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office. If that office is defunded they said, “law enforcement’s work will be much more difficult at a time when we are called on to do more.”
Lastly, the group wants to preserve and expand recidivism reduction.
To accomplish this, they’re pushing for expansion of in-prison educational and treatment programs “as a means to reduce, recidivism, crime, and taxpayer dollars spent on repeat incarceration.” They also want priority for placing high-risk offenders into transitional homes and other services, rather than direct release back to the community.
These retired chief law enforcement officers are pushing many issues that have proven successful on the state and local level. Expanding them to the federal level can provide overdue reform of the federal criminal justice system. The new administration said they will be placing a high priority on law and order, hopefully these recommendations will be considered when doing so.