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Proposal for a 2020 U.S. Constitutional 13th Amendment: Defund the Police and Abolish Private Prisons

Proposal for a 2020 U.S. Constitutional 13th Amendment: Defund the Police and Abolish Private Prisons

 For the past several days, thousands of protestors in the United States and around the world have rallied in protest against the unjustifiable death of George Floyd. George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed in broad daylight while surrounded by four police officers, and his death was caught on camera. Even with video evidence, it took record numbers of protesters on the streets (in the era of COVID-19 no less), signing petitions, and calling up their representatives demanding justice. All four officers were charged, and now await convictions. But people have not ceased their protest.

While this event, the current protests, and the history of policing in America are highly important, it is essential to ask, Where do we go from here? How do we move forward?

What will come of this mobilization?

People are educating themselves on the history of white supremacy within the U.S., and they’re beginning to connect the dots. Hashtags are going viral and people are posting protesting tips; on Twitter, users are recording and posting instances of police brutality towards protestors, among other necessary facts.

 Law firms are offering protestors legal support pro bono. Individuals are cooking up hundreds of meals for protestors. People are donating money for the memorial fund of George Floyd in addition to the memorial funds of other black individuals who have lost their lives to the Police State.

 But the fact is that police brutality, and police killings are not just common results of the Police State, they are inherent functions of a status quo which serves and protects one group at the expense of countless others.

This problem is systemic. It is not the result of one corrupt individual nor a poorly managed department. The problem is the unchecked power of officers, the lack of accountability and consequences. The problem is the original purpose of the police department: to monitor black people, to generate revenue for the state, and to harass and surveil citizens.

In 2019 alone, black individuals  made up 24% of police killings, despite representing only 13% of the U.S. population. In that same year, a black person was three times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a white person. 99% of police officers who have committed murder in the last five years have not been charged with a crime. Police violence toward the black community is going unchecked.

My modest proposal is a world without the Police. I suggest that we alter the law enforcement system which at its core targets black people, poor people, other people of color, immigrants, and other more vulnerable populations, seeking to incriminate, to harm, and to dehumanize them.

I suggest that we institute a new amendment within the U.S. Constitution.

AMENDMENT XXVIII

  1. Congress shall hereby redirect funds from state police budgets to community programs that support its citizens. Resources shall be redirected to EMT training, social workers, free health clinics, first responders, private security, neighborhood watch groups etc. The post of police officer as we know it today, will gradually be needed less and less as these resources begin to flow into these communities in this way.

    The few police officers that remain shall be mandatorily retrained, spending a longer stint in the police academy. Completion of police training will require the completion of an ethics course and the completion of a university degree. Officers will be required to police their own areas, limiting the “othering” us vs. them narrative that comes with policing districts with inhabitants of a different ethnicity or racial background than the officers.

    The police post in itself will be deprived of many of its present day functions, which have long served to perpetuate for-profit schemes. i.e. lying in wait to catch speeding vehicles, hiding speeding cameras, disguising their vehicles (to be more imperceptible to speeding vehicles) in ways where citizens cannot readily identify them.

  2. Citizens shall no longer be imprisoned without trial. Imprisoning any accused person pending trial is hereby abolished. Poverty related issues such as debt, or lack of bail funds, shall no longer be considered criminal offenses.

  3. The United States of America shall hereby abolish private prisons and turn any and all criminal detention centers, penitentiaries, and jails into rehabilitation centers. The focus of the U.S. correctional system should be to deliver justice and then help reintegrate ex-convicts– those that are not an active threat to the public– into society; above all, these former transgressors are human beings and are greater than the mistakes of their past.

    Instead of depriving these individuals of the freedom to vote and the right to seek noble employment, the U.S. government will support them by funding programs which focus on mental health rehabilitation, financial literacy, and community building.

    The Legislative and Executive branches will do a clean sweep of all laws which, by way of coded language, implicitly target the poor, the disadvantaged, the immigrants, the people of color, and other marginalized groups. For example, the criminalization of marijuana has historically been wielded in order to target and imprison African American people under the guise of the “War on Drugs” and will be abolished along with other laws, codes, and regulations that uphold a police-centric state.

  4. The United States will decrease its militarization of national borders and end immigration bans that have been established on the basis of religion and race distinctions. ICE will be largely defunded in order to end the human injustices that take place against undocumented immigrants on a large scale i.e. children and other undocumented adults placed in detention facilities and cages, children of undocumented immigrants placed illegally within U.S. foster programs, mass deportation, and widespread familial separation. The goal of Homeland Security should not be to heavily police those who are different from us. The U.S.A. should always open its doors to immigrants, who have historically bolstered our economy and enriched our communities.

  5. The U.S. military will be largely defunded. Large portions of the former annual budget of $721.5 billion will be distributed into education, allowing complimentary college for all U.S. citizens. Furthermore, these funds will be used to support a new U.S. cabinet position, one for history, which specializes in considering historical precedents before laws are made. Other government-run institutions like museums and public schools will be invested in heavily, in addition to complementary healthcare for all U.S. citizens. This will provide a greater quality of life to U.S. citizens and open the gates to those wishing to pursue higher education without access to sufficient means.

    The U.S. military will withdraw troops and military involvement from foreign countries where the pursuit is profit (oil) driven, putting an end to war zones in foreign territories.

  6. Citizens who wish to buy guns will be required to undergo background checks and vigorous tests in order to receive the proper licensing, especially in cases of advanced and automatic weapons.

2020 has been a historic year so far; why not keep up that trend? Let’s change our Constitution one amendment at a time. Let us begin a complicated surgery and uproot large parts of the injustice and white supremacy which persist at the core of this nation. Let us replace these ugly parts with something else entirely, like actual freedom and wellbeing.

The significance of a Constitutional Amendment is that it is more concrete and immovable, unlike federal law, national law, or even a bill. Furthermore, an amendment anchors itself to the original DNA of this nation. An amendment does not come and go with each presidential candidate nor administration. In fact, it is beyond the office of the president. It is the work of congress and state lawmakers. It has a wider, sweeping impact, one that would affect all fifty states. To channel real change, we must uproot our foundations and challenge our assumptions, no matter how intimidating this task may seem.