Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders just made an overhaul of the U.S. prison system part of his platform — but early feedback shows Americans are skeptical of the idea.
Across social media, critics of the Sanders plan have been quick to state that prisoners are in jail for a reason and they should not be spared every hardship that comes with incarceration.
The “Prisoner Bill of Rights” includes a goal to cut the total prison population in half, end mandatory minimum sentences, legalize marijuana, allow inmates to vote, and ban private for-profit prisons. It also proposes “free” phone calls, video chats, health services, education, vocational training, and more.
Other components of Sanders’ overhaul include that prison labor should be entitled to “a living wage,” which is $15 an hour according to Sanders. Some proponents of prison labor say that work, which produces upwards of $2 billion in economic value per year, is a way for convicts to pay society for the harm they caused.
Sanders wants to pay rapist, murders and all prisoners a living wage while in prison. Trump can't help but win in 2020.
— Louis Calabrese (@abrumpski) August 19, 2019
The proposal to allow incarcerated persons to vote has upset more than a few critics of this plan. One commenter counts that the change would allow hundreds of thousands of dangerous criminals to have a say in U.S. elections.
Bernie Sanders Plan Would Allow 183K Murderers, 164K Rapists to Vote from Prison#RadicalizedDemocrats #DemsAll4It #Bernie #Sanders
Dems Predict Huge Loss In 2020
Turn To Criminals, Illegals, & Minors For Voteshttps://t.co/7IwQZCS4rI
— #Hangin’Hillary2019 (@ForPotus45) April 24, 2019
The Sanders plan also would ban solitary confinement due to a concern that the practice is “a form of torture and unconstitutional.” But some citizens argue that solitary confinement serves useful purposes.
I disagree with Bernie Sanders on this particular issue. We need solitary confinement for prisoners who are a serious threat to other inmates. Solitary confinement is for prisoners who violate serious rules while they are inside mainstream prisons. Sounds harsh but necessary. https://t.co/15LLIeEPYU
— Hunter White (@Hunt16White) August 20, 2019
Additional proposals include creating an Office of Prisoner Civil Rights and Civil Liberties within the Department of Justice, which will ensure that all complaints regarding their rights are investigated by an independent body. It also would end cash bail, create a “registry of disreputable federal law enforcement officers” to ensure that all abusive officers are known in the system, and ban the prosecution of children under the age of 18 in adult courts for any offense.
The U.S. prison system has been in the crosshairs for some amount of reform as it continues to have the highest per-capita prison population in the world, with around 1.5 million behind bars.
Some social media users support the massive reform plan.
— Michael Hirtzel (@MichaelHirtzel) October 14, 2015
Sanders also took to social media to weigh in on his own plan by tweeting a series of statements on what would change.
The criminal justice system must treat children as children.
No more children under age 18 tried in adult courts.
No more long mandatory minimum sentences for children.
No more criminalizing truancy.
No more juveniles housed in adult prisons.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 18, 2019