Let's Make Real Progress

Image by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

Confronting the Disproportionate Impact of the Criminal Justice System on Communities of Color and the Poor

 

In order to effectuate change, we must confront the reality that the system disproportionately weighs on communities of color and the poor. Currently, the black community makes up just over 6 percent of the Buncombe County population, yet approximately 30 percent of our jail population is black, as we write this.  Courtney has seen first-hand the effects of overpolicing on our communities of color and will end failed policies of the past and employ new statistic driven policies (along with input from the community) that will effectuate change.

 

NO CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

As District Attorney, Courtney will never seek the death penalty because it is morally and ethically wrong, often applied arbitrarily and not an effective deterrent. Courtney will not ask members of our community to sit on a jury and vote to kill another human being. Historically, persons of color and the poor have been disproportionately sentenced to death in our country.  

NO CASH BAIL

The current cash bail system places a price on freedom, a price that many in our community can't pay.  Courtney will advocate to end cash bail, because as a public defender, she witnessed too often cases where the wealthy can post a cash bond, while the poor cannot. All of those held in jail with a cash bond have not yet been convicted of a crime and are considered innocent until proven guilty. The current cash bail system is not just, does not ensure public safety and disproportionately affects communities of color.

TREAT SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS AS PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS

We must treat substance abuse disorders as a public health crisis and treat it as such. The District Constantly charging and jailing those with substance abuse disorders is a waste of valuable time and resources. In cases where a person does not pose a danger to the public, we will use statistic driven policies and diversion programs to keep those with substance abuse disorders out of our jail and prisons. 

 

Our current criminal justice system is failing to keep our communities safe while also failing to deliver justice. Courtney will work alongside the community to fix what's broken and implement statistic driven policies that will build trust and equitably deliver justice in Buncombe County with the following priorities:

END MASS INCARCERATION

Excessively lengthy sentences don't make our community safer. These sentences don't address underlying issues like mental illness, trauma, poverty, and substance abuse which are often the root causes of crime. Sentencing enhancements, like habitual felon ("three strikes") and mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders contributes to the inequities in the system.

 

Additionally, we know from experience that charging and jailing people for drug offenses doesn’t work. Let’s work with our community groups and treatment facilities to help to link people with services and treatment centered diversion programs that can help them recover and keep them out of our jails.   

Rebuild Community Trust 

PRIORITIZE RESOURCE FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF CRIME

 We will prosecute violent crime and sexual assault cases with the time and resources theses cases deserve. We will work with local community groups and leaders to evaluate our policies and develop new victim/survivor based policies. 

POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY IN CASES OF MISCONDUCT

A District Attorney must hold police accountable in cases of misconduct. Courtney understands the difficult job we ask our members of law enforcement to perform, but they must protect and serve honorably and humbly the community they are entrusted to protect. Law enforcement will be held accountable if their actions rise to the level of criminal activity. No one is above the law and those who engage in police misconduct or predatory policing must be investigated with full transparency and charged if appropriate. Restoring community trust in the system starts with trust in law enforcement and the District Attorney's office.

FORM A COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

As DA, Courtney will assemble a Community Advisory Committee comprised of leaders from communities of color, treatment programs, homelessness advocacy organizations, and other stakeholders to address concerns within their respective communities while also getting updates from the District Attorney's office.