Criminal justice advocates applaud MPC endorsement of Joe Biden
The Michigan People’s Campaign endorsed Vice President Joe Biden for president at an event with Biden For President Senior Advisory Karine Jean-Pierre , and Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. The roundtable on racial equity with the Michigan’s People’s Campaign focused on the Vice President’s race equity plan and particularly around providing more support for returning citizens.
“A supermajority of incarcerated citizens enter the system with mental health or addiction issues. As president, Joe Biden, will expand mental health care and substance abuse funding,” said Ken Whittaker, Director of Movement Politics at the Michigan People’s Campaign. “His Lift Ev’ry Voice plan will ensure that addiction and mental health aren’t criminal justice issues but are healthcare issues. Vice President Biden is the only candidate discussing this and has a plan to solve these problems.”
“Our generation has an opportunity to chart a path toward racial equity in every element of civic life, from creating real economic opportunity for people of color to improving our criminal justice system to prepare people for success,” said Lt. Governor Gilchrist. “I am excited to support the Joe Biden’s Build Back Better proposals on racial equity across the board because it prioritizes the investments that Black Americans and other people of color need to thrive going forward.“
“We’re honored to have the endorsement of the Michigan People’s Campaign,” said Biden For President Michigan State Director Eric Hyers. “We’re thrilled to have them in our corner as we communicate with Michiganders about how Joe Biden can make their lives better and restore the soul of the nation.”
Joining Lt. Gov. GIlchrist were two parents who became criminal justice reform advocates after having experienced first hand the inequities in the system. One parent was Don Hemphill, Sr. When a fight between two 3rd graders became a criminal matter in 2017, Don fought prosecution of his 8 year old son, DJ, by rallying the community to support him.
"For some reason, the prosecutor decided to bring charges against my 8 year old son for a schoolyard scuffle with a little girl and didn't bother to tell me when his court date was,” Don said. “About the same time, there was a similar incident where the races of the participants were reversed and no charges were brought."
Ultimately, pressure from church, business and political leaders in the city forced the prosecutor to drop the case, but not every child sees such support. Hemphill organized Blocks United to prevent such injustice in the future. That’s why he hopes to see Joe Biden in the White House.
Another parent joining the roundtable was Pastor Yolanda Walker. Her daughter, Jocelyn had never been in any trouble growing up, but in her first semester at Western Michigan University, she was in a car with someone who decided to get out and rob another student of $7 and a cellphone. Police told Jocelyn that if she confessed to driving the car, she could go back to school the next day but instead, she was charged with armed robbery. "My daughter spent just 2 and a half years behind bars, but she was incarcerated much longer than that,” Yolanda said “We must do all we can to make sure returning citizens can reintegrate into society for everyone's benefit"
Yolanda likes Biden’s plan to create a pathway for redemption and re-entry – and make real the possibility of second chances for people like her daughter. Investing in second chances and smart criminal justice reforms will help people like Jocelyn get back to their lives while still improving public safety.
Joe Biden also wants to:
Set a national goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals have housing upon reentry – at the federal and state level.
Expand access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, as well as educational opportunities and job training for individuals during and after incarceration.
Eliminate existing barriers preventing formerly incarcerated individuals from fully participating in society.
Eliminate cash bail.