In America, there is no issue more divisive than race.
Democrats and Republicans do not see eye-to-eye on policing, criminal justice reform and the structural foundations of the American experiment.
Public opinion tells the whole story. Nearly 90 percent of Democrats approve of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Among Republicans, BLM’s favorability drops to 16 percent.
Put another way, 90 percent of Democrats claim that African Americans face discrimination, while barely one-quarter of Republicans agree. Millions of Americans consider our society racist, while millions more have a different view entirely.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. When it comes to identifying and implementing common-sense solutions, we don’t need to be this divided.
There is common ground. I am a Republican who supports President Trump. I am also a small business owner who believes in limited government. However, I also think that criminal justice reform is a worthwhile pursuit, on behalf of all Americans.
Here are eight common-sense ways to find common ground:
- All non-violent criminals should get home arrest instead of prison. One in five incarcerated people is locked up for a drug offense, with 450,000 Americans incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses on any given day. These are not murderers and rapists, and they should not be treated as such. Of course, criminal activity needs to be punished, but mass incarceration has spiraled out of control.
- Eliminate civil asset forfeiture for individuals and businesses. In America, it is legal for law enforcement officers to take assets from people suspected of illegal activity without necessarily charging them with a crime. In any given year, the Treasury and Justice departments deposit billions of dollars into their respective asset forfeiture funds. This is private property, and needs to remain so if there is no evidence of a crime.
- If law enforcement officers damage a person’s property during a search, that property should be returned to its pre-raid condition. Accidents happen, but law enforcement needs to treat private property with respect. People’s livelihoods are at stake. If a police raid results in damage, the victim(s) should be compensated for it.
- Get rid of no-knock warrants. Like in the case of Breonna Taylor, no-knock warrants are search warrants authorizing police officers to enter certain premises without first knocking and announcing their presence or purpose. As Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has argued, this clearly infringes on our individual liberties: We, the people, have a right to be protected from overzealous police officers.
- Any prosecutor who withholds evidence from a case is guilty of a felony. Prosecutors are required to turn over evidence that could exonerate a defendant, but it doesn’t always happen. If the evidence never makes it to trial, that omission may change the outcome of the case. This needs to stop: Any and all evidence should be made available in a case, without exceptions.
- Any law enforcement officer who fabricates evidence is guilty of a felony. Similarly, law enforcement has a duty to do right by the law, relying only on cold, hard evidence. If that evidence is fabricated in any way, the culprits should be punished severely. When so many Americans face jail time, it only makes sense for police malpractice to be punished proportionately as well.
- Create a law that prohibits law enforcement from changing police reports in criminal cases six months prior to trial. Again, this will protect Americans from police malpractice. It is all too common for law enforcement to lie when filing a report or changing the report for personal benefit. Federal, state, and local police officers need to be held to the same standard of transparency.
- Create a law that prohibits law enforcement from lying in order to receive confessions or promise the dismissal of charges, without being in writing and fully enforceable. The relationship between law enforcement and the citizenry needs to improve, and police officers can do their part by being more transparent in their interactions. Honesty should be a top priority. Misleading Americans is simply unacceptable.
These are not Democratic or Republican policy proposals. They are just common-sense, coming from a small business owner who has worked with people of all political persuasions and skin tones.
As a society, we all need to improve as problem-solvers. Let’s find common ground.