Netflix’s When They See Us moved everyone who watched it and left many questioning what can be done to stop the injustices the show covered. The most important thing to do is get political whether you run for office, campaign, donate, or vote we have to push a progressive programme dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system. One of the most influential positions and where our focus should be is District Attorneys.
There are 2400 district attorneys in America 125 of those represent the largest counties and are responsible for locking up 50% of those incarcerated. One of the largest of those counties is Queens in New York which would be the 4th largest city in the US if it were independent of New York. For the first time in decades this incredibly influential county is voting for a new DA on June 25th. Amongst the standard candidates there is also a 31-year-old queer Latina called Tiffany Caban who is a long time public defender and criminal justice reform activist.
Caban believes in people-powered justice that does not punish people for being poor. She has committed to end cash bail which creates a two-tiered justice system that sees people locked up purely for not being able to afford to be released. This is especially important in Queens which sends these people to the infamous Rikers Island where a staggering 85% of prisoners are there purely because they could not afford bail. Hopefully we all know the story of Kalief Browder who was sent to Rikers Island at 16 after being accused of stealing a backpack. He spent three years incarcerated awaiting trial two of which were spent in solitary confinement. He was released when the prosecutor’s case was found to lack evidence two years later Kalief died by suicide after hanging himself outside his mother’s home. He is not the only life to end is such heart breaking circumstances and Caban has a clear method of avoiding further injustices like Kalief Browder.
Another way she will do this is by raising the standard of conviction of a misdemeanour from probable cause to beyond a reasonable doubt forcing prosecutors to build strong evidence based cases to avoid racially biased prosecutions. She has also committed to end broken windows prosecuting choosing to target the causes of poverty including wage theft, landlords who charge exorbitant rent and enforce unfair evictions. She wants to prosecute, fine, and imprison people less and for serious crimes that harm society rather than sex workers, recreational drug users, and Black people who are often racially profiled.
This woman is so inspiring that Yusef Salaam one of the central park 5 has endorsed her. This man who as a boy was betrayed by the system at every turn has so much faith in her platform and history that he supports her and wants us to too. Progressive Alexandria Ocasio Cortez who represents parts of Queens in Congress endorsed Tiffany Caban in May and in the past few days progressive Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have also endorsed Caban. To find out more about Tiffany Caban visit here and please consider donating and volunteering for her campaign if you can as you can imagine she has not received support from large donors and has raised the least amount of money. As AOC proved in her historic primary win money is not all that matters Caban is campaigning at a grassroots level with volunteers knocking on doors and communicating directly with the people of Queens. The election takes place in five days and I am optimistic that she will be elected.