Criminal Justice Reform Won the 2020 Election
Pro-Reform Law Enforcement Will Keep Pushing For Justice & Equality
Several states made groundbreaking progress this week. The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) is proud to endorse these efforts, and we offer our heartfelt congratulations. Ultimately, we are working to make America a country that rejects injustice and inequality. A country that holds police accountable to the people they serve. A country that believes in a public health approach to issues that do not belong within the justice system. We are working toward a future that builds our communities up and helps them grow. We, the American people, determine the future of this country.
Here’s a breakdown of eight successful key state campaigns:
- Oregon: Measure 110 passed, making Oregon the first state in the country to decriminalize drug possession and fund quality treatment services for those who need and want them. This is a huge step in dismantling the War on Drugs, ending the criminalization of drug use, and implementing a public health approach that allows law enforcement to focus on responding to serious crime. Measure 109 also passed, allowing the clinical use of psilocybin therapy, which offers a promising treatment option for serious mental health conditions when used under the guidance of licensed mental health professionals.
- Arizona, New Jersey, Montana, and South Dakota: all four approved measures to legalize, regulate, and tax the adult use of marijuana. South Dakota also approved the use of medical marijuana. Mississippi voted to allow doctors in the state to recommend medical marijuana to people with certain conditions. The majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, and with these victories, we move closer to making sure our laws reflect the will of the people, taking marijuana out of the hands of the justice system and putting an end to hundreds of thousands of marijuana arrests made each year.
- California: Proposition 17 passed, restoring the right to vote to people who are on parole. Proposition 20 was successfully defeated, upholding recent reforms that mitigated years of harsh sentencing and parole penalties. Prop 20 will work to ensure that dangerous prison overcrowding and racial disparities in the justice system are addressed. LA County’s Measure J passed, amending the county charter to permanently allocate at least 10% of existing locally controlled revenues to be directed to community investments and alternatives to incarceration.
- Ohio: Local ballot initiative, Columbus Issue 2, passed, creating a civilian review board to carry out independent investigations of police misconduct accusations in the city. This is a massively important step in ensuring transparency and accountability in policing, which will remain a top priority for LEAP as we move into 2021 and beyond.
Our speakers did not let the pandemic keep them from lending their support in these key states where criminal justice reform was on the ballot: they gave interviews, wrote op-eds, appeared in campaign ads, and endorsed ballot initiatives, serving as the law enforcement voice for reform. LEAP was instrumental in driving change forward this election season. We are so proud of the impact our speakers made this election season, pushing for common sense laws making communities safer and more just.
But there’s still work to be done. California’s Prop 25, which would have ended cash bail, was defeated. LEAP speakers will keep fighting to replace cash bail with alternatives based on defendants’ risk to public safety, not on how much money they have. In Oklahoma, SQ 805 was defeated, meaning harsh sentencing enhancements that can keep people in prison longer for nonviolent crimes will remain in place. Yes, we are disappointed in these outcomes, but they do not distract from our successes. LEAP speakers will keep educating policymakers and the public about the need for more just policies that focus on community wellbeing and enable people who have been caught in the system to rebuild their lives. You can count on us to be where you need us most.
Supporters like you help get our speakers where they need to be, get our message to the masses, and — most importantly — drive our speakers and staff to keep working toward real, tangible changes to our justice system. Our collective safety depends on it.
Major Neill Franklin (Ret.)
Executive Director, The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)