Vera Institute of Justice Calls on Presidential Debate Moderators to Devote Time to Criminal Justice Reform Topics

WASHINGTON, DC — As President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden prepare for the first debate on September 29 in Cleveland, Ohio, the Vera Institute of Justice is calling for moderators to ask all candidates to explain how they will transform America’s criminal justice system. Vera is looking to the Presidential Commission to ensure all questions are framed in an unbiased and nondiscriminatory ways including requesting that Chris Wallace rename the topic “Race and Violence in Our Cities.”

Vera’s President, Nicholas Turner, released the following statement:

“Now more than ever, voters around the country and across the political spectrum agree on the need to transform the criminal legal system in the United States, which has disproportionately devastated communities of color. The presidential debates provide an opportunity to hear about meaningful policy proposals that address these issues. We expect to hear ideas that move us toward ending mass incarceration; address and dismantle the harm done by the War on Drugs/“tough-on-crime” era, especially for communities of color; center the voices of justice-involved people; and re-envision justice systems that are rooted in human dignity.

The debate time spent on justice reform and immigration must reflect the magnitude of the crisis impacting people across the country. A crisis where one in two American adults has an immediate family member who is or has been incarcerated, where America still locks up far more people than any other nation, where racism is endemic to the current state of American criminal justice, and where reform has not turned back the crisis of jail incarceration in the nation’s rural communities and small- and medium-sized cities.

Justice is on the ballot. The debates are not the time for moderators to inject bias or introduce questions that further racist disinformation. Instead, we expect moderators to move the candidates beyond high-level talking points and platitudes, and push them to concretely explain how they will reform and transform the American criminal legal system.”

About the Vera Institute of Justice:

The Vera Institute of Justice is a justice reform change agent. Vera produces ideas, analysis, and research that inspire change in the systems people rely upon for safety and justice. Vera collaborates with the communities most impacted by these systems and works in close partnership with government and civic leaders to implement change. Across projects, Vera is committed to explicitly and effectively reducing the burdens of the justice system on people of color and frames all work with an understanding of our country’s history of racial oppression. Vera is currently pursuing core priorities of ending the misuse of jails, transforming conditions of confinement, providing legal services for immigrants, and ensuring that justice systems more effectively serve America’s increasingly diverse communities. Vera has offices in Brooklyn, NY; Washington, DC; New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

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