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Will Donald Trump or Joe Biden be better for criminal justice? Show more Show less
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The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. As riots have blazed across the country in response to police brutality, the ways presidential candidates approach criminal justice are increasingly coming under scrutiny. Will Donald Trump or Joe Biden be better for criminal justice?

Joe Biden will be better for criminal justice Show more Show less

Biden will reform the police force and prioritise crime prevention. Trump has also failed to condemn police brutality and right-wing violence.
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Joe Biden will reform the police force and the criminal justice system

Joe Biden will address the causes of crime and prevent crime, and will prioritise rehabilitation and redemption. He will review police training and wants to rebuild trust between communities and law enforcement.
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The Argument

Biden has announced a range of criminal justice reforms that will break the cycle of crime and incarceration, shifting the emphasis towards rehabilitation and prevention. He has called for an end to the death penalty, and wants to scale back solitary confinement practices.[1] Biden’s campaign site also announces that “no one should be incarcerated for drug use alone” and that drug courts and treatments should be used instead.[2] Biden also wants to end cash bail, which he calls the “modern-day debtors prison”, since it injects discrimination into the system, punishing low-income individuals.[2] He will also introduce measures to help former prisoners to find work, extending the ‘ban the box’ initiative.[1] Biden will also end mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes by introducing a $20bn grant scheme which will also combat child abuse and promote education.[2] On policing, Biden has rejected calls to defund the police, and has instead proposed a $300m investment in the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) programme to improve police training and achieve racial diversity in the force.[1] He also wants to expand mental health and social services to drive crime prevention, particularly in schools, and will create a new commission to review police behaviour and punish wrongdoing, which will be expanded to cover chokeholds.[3] These reforms will transform the US criminal justice system and will break cycles of re-offence and incarceration. Taking a more compassionate approach to criminal justice, Biden will reduce inmate numbers and will help individuals return to mainstream society.

Counter arguments

Whilst Biden has pledged to introduce a range of reforms to the criminal justice system, he has a poor record on this issue. In the past, he pushed for harsher sentencing and anti-drug laws that created many of the problems his current policy proposals seek to solve. For more information on this, see the argument 'Joe Biden has a poor track record on criminal justice'. Biden plans to introduce progressive reforms to the criminal justice system, but his past actions suggest that he cannot be trusted to implement them. Biden's call to reduce punishments for some crimes also suggests he is soft on crime, and is not the candidate of law and order. To combat criminality, harsh punishments should remain as a deterrent - Trump is the candidate who will reduce crime. For more on this issue, see 'Donald Trump will restore law and order'. Biden's proposed reforms do not go far enough. A more radical overhaul of the police is needed to prevent crime: they should have their weapons and most aggressive resources removed, with funds being diverted to community services. The militaristic methods used by the US police force cannot be remedied by moderate reforms, the US police force should have funds withdrawn and communities should have more say on how crime should be prevented.

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.politico.com/interactives/2020/justice-reform-biden-trump-candidate-policy-positions/
  2. https://joebiden.com/justice/#
  3. https://jacobinmag.com/2020/06/joe-biden-donald-trump-resist-police-brutality-protests

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 8 Oct 2020 at 13:15 UTC

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