Libertarian for President; Former Dem. Senator (AK); withdrew from Presidential primary July 2019
Decriminalize all commercial sex work
Despite cultural changes, the U.S. government has maintained a puritanical approach to commercial sex work. Many Americans have come to see this work without the blinkered moralistic view of yesteryear; and they have come to recognize commercial
sex workers as one of society's most vulnerable communities. Women of color, of migrant backgrounds, and transgender women often rely on sex work for money. It is time to take a more rational approach.
The United States should:
Repeal the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which targeted sites like Backpage.com that sex workers used to screen clients and ensure safety.
Encourage states and municipalities to decriminalize all commercial sex work.
Focus on illegal and coercive sex trafficking, not consenting sex work.
Prisons should be a place for rehabilitation, where the convicted enter, learn, build themselves, understand their mistakes, and leave the system as better people. We no longer even pretend this is the case.
The United States should:
Abolish private prisons, as they drive up incarceration rates and sentences while treating their prisoners like nothing more than a commodity to profit off of.
Abolish prison for low-level offenses; courts should decide whom to set free and whom to
keep in jail. Other methods of punishment like fines, community service, etc. should be emphasized for these crimes, especially nonviolent ones.
Ban cash bail: true flight risks and dangers to society should be held without bail, and the rest
should not be relegated to only being free if they happen to be rich.
Ban solitary confinement, as it has been proven to be a tool of torture that ruins minds, causes hallucinations, and scars people for life.
The death penalty is a relic of an earlier, more brutish time in American history. No one, no matter how terrible their crimes, deserves to be put to death by the state; just as two wrongs do not make a right, an additional death does not ease the awful
burden of a victim's family members. Nor does it heal the community in any way. Moreover, the death penalty has repeatedly been shown to be extremely costly, to not infrequently kill innocent people, and to be racially biased in who is executed.
Gravel supports the following principles regarding crime:
Eliminate the use of the death penalty for federal crimes.
Support programs to provide prison inmates with vocational and job-related skills and job-placement assistance when released.
Support programs to provide prison inmates with drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
Reduce prison sentences for those who commit non-violent crimes.
Source: Presidential Election 2008 Political Courage Test
, Apr 22, 2008
If you don’t have any money, you don’t get any justice
Q: In the last decade, whites were 70% of persons arrested, but only 40% of inmates. Why?
A: Is it a surprise to anybody in this room that if you don’t have any money, you don’t get any justice? My gracious, the only way you’re going to get
justice is to turn around and empower yourselves to become lawmakers so you can change the system, and there’s no thought of really changing the system today. It’s politics as usual.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University
, Jun 28, 2007
Eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing laws
The US incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other peacetime nation in the world. The number of US residents behind bars has now reached 2.3 million. We are losing an entire generation of young men and women to our prisons. We must
eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing laws. We must increase the use of alternative penalties for nonviolent drug offenders. Prisons in this country should be a legitimate criminal sanction--but it should be an extension of a fair, just and wise society
Citizen Power includes abolition of the death penalty
During his first term in the Senate, Gravel authored a book titled Citizen Power. In it, he advocated the implementation of numerous populist ideas, including a guaranteed annual income (dubbed the “Citizen’s Wage”), steps against the military-industrial
complex (which he calls the “Warfare State”), abolition of the death penalty, universal health care, school vouchers, a drastic reduction in government secrecy, and an end to what he viewed as an imperialistic foreign policy.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, “Mike Gravel”
, Jan 1, 2007
More jails don’t cut crime--must address poverty instead
Russell G. Oswald, Commission of Corrections of NY State, pinpointed the problem: “Society has done damn little in ending poverty illiteracy that provide the seeds of unrest and problems that lead people to prisons.”
The lesson is clear. More police, more jails, more tough talk will not help. None of these traditionally instinctive reactions to crime can stem the rising tide.
So long as injustice and inequity in larger society exist on the gross scale that they do today, all the reasoning and rhetoric and police clubs in the world will not stop the have-nots from going after the goods they seek through the only avenue they
feel is open to them--crime. So long as we delay the basic reforms, that long will our cities continue to half-exist, in fear, behind locked doors.
Stop punishment for victimless crimes: drugs, sex & gambling
Because so much crime is the product of people who were in prison, an obvious means of reducing crime is to drastically reduce our prison population. That can be done, at no danger to society, almost overnight. How? By eliminating a whole host of common
social activities from the law’s list of “crimes.”
Common activities for which we now punish people--so-called “victimless-crimes” because they affect no one but the participant--include drinking, prostitution, gambling, homosexuality, & use of certain
drugs. What is the point of jailing people for these practices? What more towering hypocrisy, what more potent breeder of total disrespect for the law can there be than these “crimes,” which are practiced by millions of citizens, but for which only a few
are singled out for punishment?
Victimless crimes are a peril to our health only in so far as they are classified as crimes. Some 51% of criminal arrests in 1970 were for victimless crimes. We could very nearly empty our jails by abolishing them.