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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Democratic and Republican Party Platforms Address Crime

As part of the presidential nominating process, the Democratic and Republican parties have ratified their party platforms, laying out for the electorate their priorities and vision for the country. Overall, the 94 page Democratic platform document puts a heavy emphasis on economic opportunity, American competitiveness, national security and "renewing" the "American Community" and "American Democracy", which includes issues of environmental stewardship, immigration, children, fatherhood and families, criminal justice and more. The 67 page Republican platform document focuses heavily on defense and foreign affairs, reforming government and controlling spending, tax policy, health care reform, education, energy independence and security, and "Protecting Our Families," which includes issues of criminal justice, sanctity of life and property rights.

The Democratic platform, adopted during the convention in Denver last week, includes a four-paragraph section on criminal justice focusing principally on support for local law enforcement and ending violence against women. On support for law enforcement, the platform states, "We will reverse the policy of cutting resources for the brave men and women who protect our communities every day. At a time when our nation's officers are being asked both to provide traditional law enforcement services and to help protect the homeland, taking police off of the street is neither tough nor smart; we reject this disastrous approach. We support and will restore funding to our courageous police officers and will ensure that they are equipped with the best technology, equipment and innovative strategies to prevent and fight crimes."

The document goes on to say, "We will reduce recidivism in our neighborhoods by supporting local prison-to-work programs. We will continue to fight inequalities in our criminal justice system. We must help state, local and tribal law enforcement work together to combat and prevent drug crime and drug and alcohol abuse, which are a blight on our communities. We will restore funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program and expand the use of drug courts and rehabilitation programs for first-time, non-violent drug offenders."

Additionally, the platform includes a paragraph about ending violence against women, vowing to create a special advisor to the president regarding violence against women and committing to increasing funding to domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs. Finally, the platform includes a statement on victims' rights similar to one from the Democratic platform of 2004 which reads, "We support the rights of victims to be respected, to be heard, and to be compensated." [Mark Godsey]

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