Race and Racism
Racism impacts people daily, and exists on individual, interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels. It permeates our culture and impacts society across sectors. We are committed to the long-term work required to end racism, transform implicit bias, and develop a diverse and collaborative citizenry with access to shared power.
Law Enforcement’s Use of Force
Law enforcement’s primary responsibility is the safety of the public. This responsibility is undertaken even amidst the inevitable danger that come with it. We are deeply grateful that courageous men and women choose policing as their career path.
The authority accompanying policing should be regarded with a great sense of personal responsibility to respect the human rights of all people. Implicit biased training should be incorporated throughout the career lifespan of all law enforcement personnel to ensure that officers’ work is not clouded by bias.
Law enforcement officers should minimize use of force to the extent possible, and collaborate with an independent oversight body to investigate questions or complaints regarding use of force. Oversight bodies should include members of the community\ and have reasonable authority over holding police accountable. An agency cannot be assigned solely to oversee itself, as this is not a separation of power, a basic tenet of American democracy since its founding as a nation. Reasonable procedures for obtaining oversight into actual confrontations need to be defined and implemented.
Prison serves as a place to restrain people long term so that they do not commit further harm to the public. It also rests on the position that punishment plays a major role in deterring people from committing crime. However, every person has the potential to be reformed, and every effort should be made during detainment to reform those who have committed crimes. Punishment as a deterrent has proven to be limited in its effectiveness.
As part of reforming a person’s life, it is essential that those incarcerated should experience some investment from society while in prison. We believe incarcerated individuals have a right to:
- Safe and sanitary living conditions
- Adequate health care
- Opportunities to win privileges and sentence reduction
- A mental health assessment and treatment
- Treatment for addiction
- A co-created rehabilitation plan upon entering prison, (with periodic updates, including a successful re-entry plan)
A plan for successful reentry may need to include the provision of education (GED and access to college) and job training while in prison. In order to ensure that prison conditions are safe, it is essential that all prison personnel are provided with ongoing implicit bias and de-escalation training.
The Judicial System
All charges and sentencing should be fair and without racial or other bias. A good judicial system constantly monitors statistics, and intervenes when it is apparent that bias exists. While the American system upholds the right to jury trials, the overloaded system is not able to support this right, and therefore injustices are routinely carried out.
To avoid this, no one should be held in prison without having been convicted of a crime unless it is determined by a judge that they are a danger to society. A defense attorney should be present from the initial bail hearing throughout the entire adjudication process. Public defenders need to be given ample time to prepare for their client’s cases and funded accordingly. We support the legislation needed to change the Delaware Constitution to reform the bail system and other pre-trial processes.
We call for a complete re-write of the criminal code, in order to simplify it for ease of understanding by judges, prosecuting and defending attorneys, and the general public.
Those in positions of power within the system need to be accountable to the community. A judge’s decisions require some oversight in the case of complaints, although the greatest freedom consistent with justice must be afforded to judges. Likewise, the overall record of prosecutors’ decisions must be subject to oversight by an outside body to prevent excess and in extreme cases, corruption.
The use of mandatory minimums is does not allow for a judge to consider the context around the circumstances of the person at trial. They take the power of sentencing out of the hands of judges and places it into the hands of prosecutors. We call for the removal of mandatory minimum sentencing, specifically as it relates to drug crimes.
We support a restorative justice approach, when appropriate, as an alternative to punitive approaches. Restorative justice involves a reconciliation process between those harmed and those who have done harm. Not only does restorative justice hold the opportunity to lower arrest rates, it also holds the potential to stem violence across Delaware.
Quality education is a human right in a society that demands it for the success of its citizens. To achieve a high quality education for all students in Delaware’s public schools, the following are needed:
- Weighted student funding which offers extra support to students that have higher needs, including but not limited to English language learners, low-income students, and students with disabilities.
- Competitive salaries for all educators, with periodic increases to according to increases in the cost of living
- A diverse educator workforce, across race and gender.
- Adoption and implementation of restorative approaches in all public schools, to combat the school to prison pipeline. This includes ongoing educator training in the areas of restorative practices and implicit bias.
- Develop effective processes for parent engagement in all schools, across all grade levels. This includes funding that supports family engagement, establishing diversified means of contacting, informing, and engaging parents, and proactively seeking out parent involvement in school and district activities.
- Create and implement engaging curricula, on subject matter that includes basic civic engagement and social justice.
The effects of unfettered, un-regulated capitalism wreaks havoc on the lives of all low- and moderate- income peoples, regardless of race, gender, or ability. In order to ensure all people are able to live without poverty and with the ability to climb the socio-economic ladder, economic justice must be realized.
- A living wage is required to ensure each person can thrive with resources necessary for shelter, food, education, healthcare, and safety in their communities.
- There is a need for better regulation of banks when it comes to ensuring that black and brown homebuyers have equal access to home loans at fair interest rates. Redlining is illegal, and opportunities to own home, land, and to build wealth should be in the hands of all communities.
- All students leaving high school and adults returning to school should have the ability to afford a postsecondary education (whether it is a trade, or a bachelors degree). We call for the comprehensive reform on student loans to ensure this right to all peoples.
- Those returning from prison have served their sentence, and yet still face barriers to fairly participating in the economy—whether it is finding housing or looking for a job. We encourage business owners and legislators to help stop discrimination for re-entering citizens.
- Equal pay (across race, gender, and ability) is essential to ensuring that all Delawareans can reach their full, socio-economic potential.
- No community should have to choose between jobs and a clean environment. We support the right to clean air, water, and land for all communities. Low-income communities should not be targeted for environmentally dangerous economic projects, nor should low-income communities be selected for underpaid, unsustainable job opportunities.