Read a PDF of our statement here.
On Thursday, President Biden unveiled the Safer America plan, which includes strong support for community crime prevention and response, increased law enforcement accountability, sentencing reform and reduced violence army. The plan also includes support for hiring and training an additional 100,000 police officers. While the goal of improving security is laudable and urgent, increasing funding and hiring more police does not advance that goal and should not be the Biden administration’s priority. Instead, we urge President Biden to continue to focus on appropriate alternatives to policing and on creating a public safety system centered on the protection of civil and human rights.
Black Americans — especially young black men — are at a disproportionate risk of dying from gun violence. Black people are also disproportionately impacted by policing and incarceration, with devastating and destabilizing consequences for Black families and communities. While black people make up only 13% of the US population, they make up 38% of people in jail or jail. It is critical that we identify new ways to keep Black communities safe without continuing the failed strategies that have made the United States the largest per capita incarcerator in the world with a prison population disproportionately black and Latinx.
“We are disappointed that President Biden’s Safer America plan embraces the failed concept that we can provide security by increasing police presence in our communities,” said Legal Defense Fund (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Janai. S.Nelson. “History and research have shown time and time again that more police and tougher sentences do not reduce crime and are in fact counterproductive to public safety due to the adverse effects of policing and discriminatory incarceration.
“As Congress considers these and other proposals, it should not appropriate additional funds to hire more police officers. Increased encounters with law enforcement and incarceration are destabilizing and counterproductive to a restorative security system that respects the dignity of black people. Rather than enacting legislation that continues to support increased investments in punitive and harmful law enforcement systems, Congress should move quickly to consider proposals – including some of those in the Safer America plan – that invest in underresourced communities, address the root causes of violence, and use evidence-based, community-led programs for violence intervention and health-based crisis response. It is essential that public funds are used to help black communities thrive, rather than subjecting them to increased encounters with law enforcement.
“We also call on Congress to act quickly to eliminate the crack-related sentencing disparity and lift the lifetime ban on critical federal benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for people with previous drug convictions – important elements of the Safer America plan that require legislative action.
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s premier civil rights organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multidisciplinary, collaborative center within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957, although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to gender equality. rights.