Nov 22, 2021 - Axios on HBO

"Axios on HBO": Swan challenges Tlaib on emptying federal prisons

On "Axios on HBO," Jonathan Swan challenged Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) on the sweep of a plan for closing federal prisons that she has endorsed, and is supported by some criminal-justice activists.

  • "[E]veryone's like, 'Oh my God, we're going to just release everybody.' That's not — ," Tlaib said.
  • Swan interjected that the BREATHE Act "actually says: Release everyone" from federal prisons over 10 years.

Why it matters: While prison reform is a mainstream position within the Democratic Party, federal prison abolition — which Tlaib has advocated — is not. These law-and-order issues have come to the center of political contests throughout the country as crime rates have risen.

Swan asked to what extent Tlaib has wrestled with potential downsides to the reforms she backs — namely that the federal prison population contains dangerous criminals.

  • Tlaib: "But did you see how many people are mentally ill that are in prison right now?"
  • Swan: "But there are, like, human traffickers."
  • Tlaib: "Oh, I know. ... Look at who's in prison now ... folks that are mentally ill, that have substance-abuse problems ... And obviously there's a process of looking at how can we get away from mass incarceration, and move towards care first."

More from the "Axios on HBO" interview:

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