Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday unveiled three criminal justice policy proposals he said were aimed at cutting incarceration rates in half.
The former New York City mayor announced the proposals after a roundtable discussion in Jackson, Miss. They focus on combating the high incarceration rate that disproportionately impact people of color. Bloomberg said in a campaign release that he would release a comprehensive plan in the “coming weeks.”
“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 in the release. “The initiatives we announced today will be an important first step toward building a fairer, better country.”
Bloomberg’s plan would implement a national initiative to cut the number of incarcerated youths in half by the end of his first term and put in place federal grants to fund alternative placement programs and risk-assessment tools to limit the number of detained youths waiting for trial. About 53,000 youths are incarcerated away from home, according to the release.
To reduce the number of adult prisoners, Bloomberg said he would also enforce federal incentives, risk assessments and alternative programs. He would advocate for reducing or getting rid of bond and for bringing back Federal Pell Grants to allow prisoners to achieve post-secondary education, he said.
The former mayor also announced he would put federal funding in place for adult prisoners to help them reenter society and break the “cycle of crime.” He proposed a federal program to allow former prisoners to find paid work by incentivizing states and employers to hire them.
The former mayor touted his 40 percent incarceration rate reduction while in office in New York City, saying in the release if that rate occurred nationally 900,000 fewer people would have been prisoners.
But Bloomberg has also been criticized for his approach to criminal justice reform in the past after he implemented the “stop and frisk” policing tactics in New York, which permitted police to stop and search anyone whom they suspected of committing a crime. Black and Latino residents were nine times as likely as white people to be stopped, but no more likely to be arrested, The New York Times reported in May 2010.
He apologized for the policing strategy, saying he “was wrong” about a week before he announced his campaign.