Feb 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bloomberg unveils criminal justice plan amid stop-and-frisk fallout

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

2020 candidate Mike Bloomberg on Tuesday released a criminal justice reform agenda that focuses on reducing racial disparities in incarceration and helping reintegrate those who have been jailed.

Why it matters: The former New York City mayor's criminal justice record has been under scrutiny in the wake of the resurfacing of a 2015 audio clip of him defending the city's stop-and-frisk policy, which mostly impacted black and Latino people before it was ruled unconstitutional in 2013.

  • Bloomberg had defended the policy as recently as January 2019, but apologized for it last November once it became clear he planned to run for president.
  • The new criminal justice plan comes one day before Bloomberg is set to take part in his first Democratic debate, where he is sure to be challenged on the issue.

What Bloomberg's proposal would do:

  • Raise the standard for police using force and require training in de-escalation and implicit bias.
  • End cash bail at the federal level and create "new supervised release alternatives."
  • Set a goal to reduce incarceration by 50% by 2030.
  • Provide employers with a multi-year tax incentive for hiring people who were incarcerated and expand “ban the box" initiatives, which seek to eliminate questions about conviction history from job applications.
  • Expand social services for the children of incarcerated people.

What he's saying: “In New York City, our Administration reduced incarceration by nearly forty percent, and as president, I will work to cut incarceration in half by 2030 and cut youth detention in half by the end of my first term," Bloomberg said in a statement.

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Michael Bloomberg on the issues, in under 500 words

Michael Bloomberg. Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Michael Bloomberg is a late entry to the Democratic primary, launching less than three months out from the Iowa caucuses. The billionaire is known for his former role as mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013 and his current position as CEO of Bloomberg LP.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bloomberg's baggage, and barrage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top 2020 Democrats, armed with decades of opposition research, plan to savage Mike Bloomberg as a Democratic Trump — an egomaniac New York billionaire who's stained by sexism and racial slights, and hell-bent on buying power and puppeteering mass media.

Why it matters: Bloomberg knows it's coming, has rehearsed his retorts, readied ads and policy plans to deflect, and will unleash $1.5 billion more on ads and staff to clean up any damage.

Judge who presided over "stop-and-frisk" case says Bloomberg got it wrong on debate night

Bloomberg in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Retired U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who ruled in 2013 that New York's stop-and-frisk policy violated the rights of people of color, told MSNBC that Michael Bloomberg was wrong about his involvement in the controversial program at Wednesday night's debate.

What she's saying: Scheindlin refuted Bloomberg's claim that as New York City mayor he chose to reduce how many people were stopped, saying instead that he was forced: "It wasn't because he realized, had an epiphany that it was wrong. It's because of the court rulings, that's what happened, I ruled."