Memphis Council Candidate Questionnaire: District 4 Answers

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1.If elected or re-elected to the city council, will you propose programs and/or initiatives to limit the number of arrests for minor offenses in the city?

SWEARENGEN: DID NOT RESPOND

THORNTON:

Yes

Yes – interactions with the criminal justice system can be huge setbacks for Memphians, and we should focus our policing efforts on deterring and apprehending the most serious violators. Nobody should be criminalized simply for being poor, for struggling with mental health issues or addiction, or for behavior that poses no real threat or risk to the community.

2. If elected or re-elected to the city council, will you support a pre-booking diversion program for drug-related offenses and for those suffering from mental health issues?

SWEARENGEN: DID NOT RESPOND

THORNTON:

Yes

Supporting Memphians struggling with addiction and/or mental health issues is the right thing to do. We can’t be satisfied with merely diverting them away from prisons. We need to fund high-quality programs with proven, evidence-based practices to ensure that residents get the help they need to get back on their feet.

3.If elected or re-elected to the city council, will you support a policy to require transparency and democratic accountability before city agencies acquire new surveillance tools?

SWEARENGEN: DID NOT RESPOND

THORNTON:

Yes

4. If elected or re-elected to the city council will you work to make stop and arrest data, including race and ethnicity data, available to the public quarterly?

SWEARENGEN: DID NOT RESPOND

THORNTON:

Yes

5. If elected or re-elected to the city council what will you do to ensure a timely, transparent and independent investigation whenever an officer uses deadly force?

SWEARENGEN: DID NOT RESPOND

THORNTON:

As a Memphian, I often personally feel frustrated about the lack of clarity surrounding these investigations. It is so difficult for citizens to be able to parse out the roles and responsibilities of various actors and law enforcement agencies and be informed in the process. I see this confusion as an opportunity for law enforcement to bridge the gap and educate the community. The rules that govern the police must be citizen-facing. When citizens are kept in the dark, there is little hope of accountability and justice. In city council, I will ensure that law enforcement does not operate with impunity as an intimidating presence but as an informing presence that earns the trust and respect of the communities they serve.

6. Name 3 steps you would take as a council member to make the Community Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) more effective.

SWEARENGEN: DID NOT RESPOND

THORNTON: DID NOT RESPOND

7. Would you support policies, programs or initiatives to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline?

SWEARENGEN: DID NOT RESPOND

THORNTON:

Yes

Too often, we look at our students from a perspective of deficit. We anticipate failure from certain kids – prison becomes an expectation. On the flip side, we reserve the bulk of the resources and opportunities for the students we label as high-performing. We need to reverse this thinking and invest in students equitably. If we can recognize that a student is at risk of getting swept up in the justice system, we can recognize that the same child needs wraparound supports early on in life.

8. What does criminal justice reform mean to you?

SWEARENGEN: DID NOT RESPOND

THORNTON:

Criminal justice reform means moving from a punitive system to a rehabilitative system. It means restoring fairness and balance to a system that too often provides people with inadequate representation, coerces them with mandatory minimums, and ruins them financially with cash bail. It means shifting our focus to root causes of crime rather than disinvesting in people and communities and enlisting prisons as our default social policy. Finally, it means providing law enforcement with the implicit bias and community policing training they need to serve our communities in a way that dignifies them rather than degrades them.

2019-09-12T16:44:20+00:00 September 11th, 2019|Categories: General News|Tags: |