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Criminal Justice

Our Values

Everyone should have equal access to the criminal justice system and be treated equally under the law.

All racial, ethnic, religious, gender, and class-based profiling and discriminatory law enforcement must be banned and all federal, state and local enforcement agencies must take steps to eliminate the practice.

Current rates of incarceration are a national shame. Restorative justice programs must be enacted over criminalization for non-violent crimes. We are opposed to construction of for-profit, private, jails, prisons, or detention centers in Whatcom County.

The “war on drugs” must end and be replaced with policies aimed at reducing harm to users, to others, to state and local budgets, and to the community.

We condemn all forms of terror, whether by governments or nongovernmental entities, whether domestic or foreign, right-wing or left-wing.

We condemn all forms of bias based on race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, gender identity, and religion. Such behavior violates the core American principle that all human beings have equal worth and should be treated with equal dignity. Black lives matter as much as any other lives because all lives are of equal worth and concern. Police shootings of unarmed citizens are a national disgrace, as are harassment, abuse, and discrimination, and must be investigated and prosecuted. 

Acting violently based on interpretations of any religion or ideology is incompatible with democracy, human rights, and morality. It is important for those who hold peaceful and democratic interpretations of these doctrines to denounce violent and authoritarian actions.

2016 Policy Priorities

Washington State Legislature: Decriminalize possession and use of personal quantities of psychoactive drugs, reserving criminal penalties for the illegal sale of controlled substances.

Washington State Legislature, United States Congress: Abolish the death penalty.

Washington State and other states: Close privately owned prisons and oppose the privatization of prisons overall.

Washington State Legislature: Repeal the three strikes law.

Washington State Legislature: Repeal mandatory minimum sentence laws.

Washington State Legislature: Repeal 1986 police impunity law. Police should resort to lethal force only as a last recourse, after exhausting all other means.

U.S. Congress, Washington State Legislature: Demilitarize police departments.

Washington State Legislature: Abolish felony disenfranchisement, as in Maine and Vermont.

Washington State Legislature: Switch to day fines as in Netherlands, Germany, and the Nordic countries, based on amount earned by the individual per day.

U.S. Congress: Pass the No More Money Bail Act.

Washington State Legislature: Ban private bail bonds, as Oregon has already done.

Washington State Legislature: Limit the number of rounds allowed per magazine for semiautomatic guns to no more than ten, as in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York.

Washington State Legislature: Criminalize complicity in gun crimes in which the registered owner has not swiftly reported a gun theft.

U.S. Congress: Make interstate gun trafficking a federal crime, and increase penalties for so-called “straw-man” sales in which someone buys a gun to deliver to a third party.

U.S. Congress: End the ban on federal funding for research into gun violence.

Washington State Legislature: Allow growing up to four cannabis plants per residence for private consumption, kept out of public view, as in Oregon.

Federal Government: Reverse Supreme Court decision that allows excessive strip-searches.

Federal Government, Washington State: Eliminate racial profiling by government or law enforcement.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Eliminate intervention in our local court system.

Federal Government, Washington State, Whatcom County Sheriff, and city police forces: Base asset seizures on court conviction rather than mere arrest or presumption of guilt.

Washington State Legislature: Provide adequate funding for indigent defendants in criminal cases.

FBI, State Police, Whatcom County Sheriff, city police forces: Assure accountability in law enforcement through independent review, including meaningful citizen participation.

Whatcom County Sheriff, city police forces: Increase training of all law enforcement on how to recognize and manage events involving veterans and others who have seizures and mental-health events.

U.S. Congress: Move military sexual assault prosecution out of the chain of command to an independent prosecuting body.

Washington State Legislature: End discrimination against women in indecent exposure law. Specify that women may be topless when and where men are allowed to be topless.

Whatcom County and cities: Designate clothing-optional public beaches.

City of Bellingham: Permitted events with prearranged times and routes that involve non-lewd nudity should not be interfered with by police just because an individual phones in a complaint. Seattle no longer arrests participants in the annual World Naked Bike Ride; Bellingham should do likewise.


RESOLUTION in favor of abolishing civil forfeiture (2).pdf313.41 KB