Hillary Clinton delivered one of her first critical speeches in her run for presidency this morning (Apr. 29). Taking the podium to keynote at Columbia University, the former U.S. Secretary of State took on the Freddie Gray tragedy in Baltimore, and the unrest that ensued in the city thereafter. In response, Clinton detailed her goals for criminal justice reform.
“The tragic death of another young African-American man. The injuries to police officers. The burning of peoples’ homes and small businesses,” she said. “We have to restore order and security. But then we have to take a hard look as to what we need to do to reform our system.”
Clinton also revealed her mission to end mass incarceration, citing the effects it has had in impoverished American communities, as one in every 28 children have an imprisoned parent. She outlined the economic repercussions, as the prison system remains costly while affected families struggle in single-parent homes. She also discussed the differences between time served amongst black and white people convicted of crimes.
“There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are far more likely to be stopped by the police and charged with crimes and given longer prison terms than their white counterparts,” Clinton said. “There is something wrong when trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve breaks down… We must urgently begin to rebuild bonds of trust and respect among American between police and citizens.”
The presidential hopeful also supported the implementation of body cameras in police departments across the nation. Expressing that it will “improve transparency and accountability,” Clinton supported the exposing of injustices. But many reports were quick to note that the former first lady’s stance on criminal justice have changed drastically since she supported her husband’s 1994 Violent Crime Control Act.
“It’s hard to remember now, but the crime rate in the early 1990s was very high,” she said. “But we’ve got to take stock now of the consequences, so that’s why I want to have a thorough review of all of the penalties, of all the kinds of sentencing, and more importantly start having more diversion and having more second chance programs.”
Watch excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s speech in the the video above, and read the full transcript on her official website here.