Congressional candidate Jamaal Bowman wants to repeal a 25-year-old crime bill that sacrificed communities of color to a radical expansion of mass incarceration.
“Putting more people in prison hasn’t made us safer,” he stated. “What it has done is decimate communities of color and ripped families and communities like mine apart.”
Bowman says the 1994 crime bill was written by politicians who wanted to show they were tough on crime. So they passed mandatory minimums and tougher sentences, along with many more arrests for drug offenses. They also gave states billions of dollars to build more prisons and keep people in prison longer.
“We spent and keep spending billions of dollars on incarceration and enforcement instead of prevention,” he explained.
Bowman says the policing of marginalized communities has taken over to the point where children are being overwhelmed by security and armed forces in their own schools. So he decided to open up his own school and do things differently. The Cornerstone Academy for Social Action is a middle school in the North Bronx located in a historically oppressed community.
“We are a restorative justice school that educates the whole child,” he explained. “We guide them toward becoming transformative agents of change in their own communities.”
Bowman says we need leadership that reflects marginalized communities and their experiences. We also need policies that empower communities out of crime instead of policing them.
“It’s time to usher in a new generation of leadership,” he said. “We need Democrats in Washington who will fight for school and education, not jails and incarceration.”