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Bernie Sanders. Photo: Paras Griffin/WireImage

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday revealed a 6,000-word proposal for overhauling the criminal justice system, timed to coincide with the Democratic presidential candidate's 2-day trip to South Carolina.

The big picture: Sanders' sweeping plan, titled "Justice and Safety for All," promises to transform the criminal justice system in the U.S. by ending "profiteering" by corporations, reforming police and prison systems, investing in communities, and ending mass incarceration, among many other things.

"Due to the historical legacy of institutional racism in this country, mass incarceration disproportionately falls on the shoulders of black and brown people in America. ... These disparities pervade every aspect of the criminal justice system. Black Americans, and especially young black men, are more likely to be stopped by the police, subjected to excessive force, arrested, and jailed than whites."

Some highlights from Sanders' plan:

  • End cash bail and civil asset forfeiture.
  • Ban for-profit prisons.
  • Increase the number of public defenders and funding to better serve certain communities.
  • Provide more support for law enforcement and unarmed non-law enforcement as an alternative response system for mental health emergencies.
  • Ban the use of facial recognition software in policing.
  • Conduct a U.S. Attorney General’s investigation whenever someone is killed in police custody. 
  • Create a "Prisoner Bill of Rights" for incarcerated people that would end solitary confinement and guarantee living wages, educational training and the right to vote.
  • End mandatory sentencing minimums and "three strikes" laws.
  • Abolish the death penalty.
  • Legalize marijuana.
  • Stop the criminalization of homelessness and spend more than $25 billion over 5 years to end homelessness.

Between the lines: Sanders has long supported banning private prisons and ending mass incarceration, but has recently been pushing broader criminal justice reform in an effort to appeal more to voters of color. South Carolina is a key early voting state with an African American population of 27.8%, far higher than other early states like Nevada (9.1%), Iowa (3.4%) and New Hampshire (1.5%), per CNN.

Several other candidates have laid out plans on how to reform the criminal justice system, which has become something of a bipartisan priority.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden detailed in July his plan to help states eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent crimes.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren also wants to ban private prisons and detention centers and hold "corporate criminals" accountable.
  • In July, Pete Buttigieg unveiled a "racial justice" plan to ban federal private prisons and to reduce incarceration by 50% on the federal and state level.

Go deeper: Axios' special report on the business of mass incarceration

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.

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