Editor’s Note. The following opinion article from USA Today was written by two women working on the front lines of change: Durham, N.C.’s Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson and St. Louis, Missouri’s Ward 15 Alderwoman Megan Green. Both communities have garnered headlines in recent years for not only their much higher than average crime rates, but also their criminal justice systems’ biased treatment of citizens of color.
But rather than implement meaningful reforms in the face of national criticism, the women argue, the cities have instead doubled down on failing policies — both communities spend substantially more money on law enforcement and corrections than they do on programs aimed at stopping crime before it can begin in the first place, like jobs training and youth engagement programs.
What follows is an overview, based on their research, of how lasting public safety can start today.
USA Today Opinion
By Jillan Johnson and Megan Green
Long before either of us took office, we saw how certain communities across the country were overpoliced, hypercriminalized and overincarcerated.
And this has only gotten worse as the Trump administration has rolled back oversight and regulations on police accountability and transparency, while supporting the militarization of law enforcement and unleashing a brutal mass deportation machine on immigrant communities.
A new investigation released last month by the Center for Popular Democracy and Local Progress — an organization headed by local elected officials, including us, who are working to implement national social justice reform — shows that none of our cities is properly holding police accountable or implementing reforms. And the evaluation, we fear, points to a larger, nationwide trend.