Memphis Council Candidate Questionnaire: J.B. Smiley Jr.’s Answers

Home/General News/Memphis Council Candidate Questionnaire: J.B. Smiley Jr.’s Answers

JB Smiley Jr.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?

Smiley:

Yes

The City should pay particular attention to initiatives and or proposed legislation that limits the amount of interaction an individual has with the criminal justice system as it relates to minor offenses that lead to arrest.

For starters, our money bail system ignores that every person arrested is “innocent until proven guilty.” It also disenfranchises people of color and those from low-income areas. We must champion legislation that takes a new approach to the money bail system.As a Councilman, I will advocate for the police to limit the number of arrests of individuals accused of minor offense and also the need for a money bail system for those who have minor run-ins with the law.

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?

Smiley:

Yes

We spend too much of our resources imprisoning those who have mental health issues and substance abuse problems. If we truly desire a society that cares and a criminal justice system that rehabilitates we will take the necessary steps to provide those individuals suffering from mental health issues and substance abuse problems the help they need. We can do this by expanding pre-booking diversion programs.

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?

Smiley:

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?

Smiley:

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?

Smiley:

The City has an independent body, CLERB, tasked with and given the authority to investigate, hear cases, make findings and recommend action on complaints regarding excessive and deadly force. As a councilman, I will do what is necessary to support CLERB and be sure that we have a timely, transparent, and independent investigation that is made available promptly.

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

Smiley:

In interest of brevity, I will say this. The thought of CLERB and what it stands for is nice. However, the actual ability of the body to make substantive decisions is lacking. As I understand it, generally, CLERB can investigate and make recommendations. The most important step, and the only step I would recommend at this point, without meeting with the Board, is giving the Board the right to appeal to City Council any decision by the MPD to disregard its recommendations.

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

Smiley:

Yes

With parents who face unique socioeconomic challenges, in-home childhood education often takes a backseat to adults with multiple jobs to make ends meet, health challenges, single parenthood, or a lack of education themselves.

As children advance through the education system, I will fight to ensure that the City of Memphis increases it support of public education and programs that support our youth.
I will also fight to save (and expand) programs that teach technology, creative art, and life skills in public schools so that parents don’t have to travel across town for a quality education.

Lastly, I will work hand-in-hand with the organizations that offer wrap-around support to families and after-hours opportunities to youth to instill a positive relationship with learning and critical thinking that will prepare our children for college and/or a career after graduation.

8. What does criminal justice reform mean to you?

Smiley:

Criminal justice reform means, in a broad sense, changing how our government identifies and labels certain behaviors and/or activities as crimes, addressing over policing of certain communities in addition to transformative change as it relates to the money bail system.

2019-09-12T16:30:19-05:00 September 12th, 2019|Categories: General News|