Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will put forward her first policy proposal during a speech Wednesday at Columbia University, where she will call for major criminal justice reforms to "end the era of mass incarceration," the Los Angeles Times reports.
The speech comes on the heels of the violence in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died of spinal cord injuries sustained while in police custody.
Some 3,000 law enforcement officers — national guardsmen and police — kept watch over the city Tuesday night after rioters on Monday burned buildings, looted businesses and engaged in other acts of violence. CNN reported that 20 police officers were wounded in the melee.
An unidentified Clinton aide told the Times that Clinton would address the situation in Baltimore during her speech.
At a $2,700-per-person New York City fundraiser Tuesday evening, Clinton made reference to the Baltimore riots, saying that once "order and security" are restored, "we have to take a hard look as to what we need to do to reform our system."
Clinton's proposals will include alternative punishment for low-level offenders, including probation and drug diversion programs, beefed up funding for mental health and drug treatment and body cameras for every police department, the latter as a way to "increase transparency and accountability in a way that benefits both officers and members of the public," according to the Huffington Post.
She has said previously that an "incarceration generation" has spawned as a result of harsh federal minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines advanced by politicians — including her husband, President Bill Clinton, in the 1990s — seeking to convince voters that they were tough on crime.
"She will also discuss the hard truth and fundamental unfairness in our country that, today, African American men are far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes and sentenced to longer prison terms," according to a campaign statement.
Calls for criminal justice reforms have snowballed by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Republican presidential hopefuls, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have all said changes are needed.
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