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John Odermatt: 7 Essential Criminal Justice And Policing Reforms

by | Jun 11, 2020

John Odermatt on his podcast Felony Friday at The Lions Of Liberty has been interviewing a wide range of people caught up in the criminal justice system. One of the recurrent themes in his many interviews is how difficult it is to get out once you are in the criminal justice system.

John has 7 recommendations for making lasting change to the criminal justice system. I would also add that politicians and bureaucrats should not be left out of any reform (or criticism) – they make the laws the police have to go out and enforce, they should also be held accountable.

“For the past five years I’ve worked to shine a light on the rampant injustice in the United States criminal justice system. During that time I’ve hosted a show called Felony Friday on the Lions of Liberty Podcast. I’ve interviewed hundreds of previously incarcerated individuals who have shared stories of injustice that will bring tears to your eyes and cause you to cry out for change. These individuals have also shared the triumphs they’ve achieved as they navigated the obstacles in front of them as they strive to find success after the world turned their backs on them.

I have also interviewed former law enforcement officers who have shared the broken culture in policing and the systemic racism built into the system. They’ve spoken about a system focused on filling prisons, rather than helping to keep the communities safe.”

It’s going to take action. We need structural change in the system. You cannot correct a systemic problem, without CHANGING THE SYSTEM!

With that said. Here’s my 7 point plan to de-escalate the current situation and setup a scenario where we can begin to get the boot off the neck of the citizens.

1. Demilitarize the police. Stop programs that transfer military equipment used in foreign wars to local communities. The Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which began in the early 90s during the height of the War on Drugs, created the pipeline for local law enforcement agencies to begin to build a cache of military grade equipment. On top of that, President Trump signed an Executive Order in 2017 that made it easier for police departments to access this equipment.  

2. Decriminalize all drugs. Ending the War on Drugs will significantly decrease police interaction. There is no reason for police to be intervening in consensual transactions. Furthermore, we should treat drug abuse and addiction as a health issue rather than one to be criminalized. The drug war was founded in racism and it has done more damage to the black community than any other government initiative.

3. End mandatory occupational licensing. Allow insurance and the market to regulate. This will minimize police intervention in consensual transactions. With occupational licensing, individuals are forced to pay the State to get a license to cut hair, do tattoos, paint nails, be a handy man, etc. Police often setup stings to catch people operating without a license. As long as they aren’t committing fraud and falsifying certifications that they do not have, then there is no reason to put government officials between two adults that consented to the transaction. 

4. Ban no-knock raids. They escalate tensions and create an unsafe environment for all parties. The risk far exceeds any reward. The recent police killings of Breonna Taylor and Duncan Lemp reveal the barbaric nature of this tactic. It has to stop now. 

5. End Qualified Immunity. Government officials should not be placed in a tier above citizens. It is ridiculous that we have a federal law that shields government officials from being sued for discretionary actions performed within their official capacity. Under Qualified Immunity police can only be sued if their actions violated “clearly established” federal law or constitutional rights. We need equality under the law and a level playing field. 

6. Stop using taxpayers funds to pay victims of police brutality. Mandate that lawsuits filed against police departments or officers are paid out by either police held insurance policies or police pension funds. There is no reason for the taxpayer to be held responsible for paying the victims of police brutality.

7. End Civil Asset Forfeiture. Civil forfeiture allows police to confiscate any property they allege to be involved in a crime. The owner of the property does not even need to be charged or convicted of a crime! Cash, cars, or even real estate can be be taken away permanently by the government. The government can then decide to keep the property or sell it! 

People are upset right now. The protests are totally justified. But we need practical solutions that will lead to structural change in the system to go along with the protests. These 7 essential criminal justice and policing reforms would be a good start. 

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About Steven Woskow

Steve Woskow is an entrepreneur and was President of Agtech Products, Inc., a research and development company specializing in animal agriculture. He has a Ph.D. in Nutrition and Food Science from Iowa State University. He is retired and lives with his family in Northern Nevada.

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