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July 29th, 2015

steuard: (lake)
Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 11:48 pm
I want the whole concept of "juvenile charged as an adult" to be eliminated from the American legal system. (Maybe the US could then stop being the only UN nation other than Somalia not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.)

I want police officers to be trained under the assumption that protecting innocent civilian lives is even more important than their own safety. (And reminded that our society believes in a presumption of innocence.)

I want police officers and departments to consider any death (or injury) at police hands to reflect a failure. Officers should be trained to prioritize deescalation whenever possible. (Among other reasons, many violent or threatening individuals are mentally ill.)

I want black people carrying fake guns to be treated with at least as many rights as white people carrying real ones.

I want law enforcement officers to be legally classified as ordinary civilians under all circumstances unless their actions are recorded by a body camera and successfully uploaded to a public server. (Live wireless backup could be an important part of this.) (Any recording relevant to an actual civil or criminal trial should be publicly viewable, but I could accept restrictions on general access to all recorded footage.)

I want statistics to be kept on every police officer and every police department, including counts of officer-involved deaths, major injuries and minor injuries, as well as percentage of encounters that escalate to violence, all annotated with race and gender. Departmental statistics should be public, and tracked at the state and federal level. Individual officer's statistics should be confidential but regularly reviewed at the local and state levels. (For both individuals and departments, careful statistical analysis is of course necessary: some outliers are statistically inevitable even under normal behaviors and conditions, and careful attention would be necessary to develop proper apples-to-apples comparison groups. Statistics alone should never lead to censure or punishment, but they could prompt a more individual review, including recordings of the incidents in question.)

I want police officers (and society at large) to recognize that one bad apple ruins the bunch, and that their fellow officers must be held to standards at least as high as the general population.

I want a guarantee that the proceeds of civil forfeiture will never be shared with the officers, department, or local government directly responsible for confiscating the property in question. (Proceeds could be given to local community service organizations, or to state or federal governments.)

I want a (low) nationwide cap on the fraction of a municipality's revenue that can come from fines. (Excess could be returned to local citizens as some sort of tax rebate or given to local non-profits.)

I want a ban on military-style equipment for most police officers and departments. The use of such tools should be limited to small, highly trained teams to be deployed only in the most dangerous situations, and whose numbers are subject to strict caps based on local/regional population and violent crime rates. (Note that British police are almost entirely unarmed, and overwhelmingly want it to stay that way. That might not work here, today, but clearly our current model isn't the only way.)

I want the importance of affirmative, active consent to be taught in every school (and discussed as explicitly applying to sexual activity beginning at least by middle school).

I want drug possession to be treated as a public health issue rather than a crime. (Retroactive reductions in prison sentences to match would be a good corollary.)

I want the sale of any drug whose likely harm to the individual and to society is no worse than tobacco's (or maybe even alcohol's) to be legalized, taxed, and carefully regulated for safety. (More nuanced updates of that Lancet study would of course be very welcome.)

I want the US population to collectively decide that convicts deserve humane conditions and that rape and assault are just as important to prevent in prison as they are outside of it. (And that it's worth the investment of money and attention to ensure all that. I'm willing to accept a lot of cameras for this one.)

I (probably) want most of our national social safety net programs to be replaced by a universal basic income (along with some sort of access to Medicare/Medicaid or a similar program), too, but that's a more complex issue than most of these.

There's probably a lot more that should be on this list, but that's a start.