Four words are etched above the Supreme Court: Equal Justice Under Law. That’s supposed to be the promise of our justice system. But today in America, there’s one justice system for the rich and powerful, and another one for everybody else.
It’s not equal justice when a kid with an ounce of pot can get thrown in jail while a bank executive who launders money for a drug cartel can get a bonus. It’s not equal justice when, for the exact same crimes, African Americans are more likely than whites to be arrested, more likely to be charged, more likely to be convicted, and more likely to be sentenced.
We need criminal justice reform and we need it now. That means ending racial disparities in our justice system. It means banning private prisons. It means embracing community policing and demilitarizing our local police forces. It means comprehensive sentencing reform and rewriting our laws to decriminalize marijuana.
Equal justice also demands that everybody – no matter how wealthy or well-connected – is held accountable when they break the law. That means new laws and a new commitment to prosecuting giant corporations – and their leaders – when they cheat their customers, stomp out their competitors, or rob their workers. It means judicial nominees that follow the rule of law instead of catering to the wealthy and the well-connected.
It won’t be easy. But we will make structural change to fulfill the promise of our justice system. Our democracy demands it.