A smart and fair America should continually shape a better tomorrow. Responsible, equitable criminal justice systems seek to keep innocents safe while working to identify, punish, reform, and rehabilitate offenders. Such systems judiciously incarcerate violent and dangerous offenders within a transparent, balanced framework and provide appropriate opportunities for redemption and reentry to society.
LEAN supports thoughtful, transparent criminal justice reform including alternatives to incarceration for non-violent, first-time offenders. We support tested and validated behavior modification options to prison but oppose those that would simply provide for early release of fairly convicted felons whose histories are predictive of a serious threat to others.
We believe an inadequate mental health care system overburdens law enforcement and penal institutions. Too many Americans suffer mental health challenges without effective care options, some of whom are presented with a single choice when a mental health crisis happens – confrontation with police, arrest and incarceration. That cycle is commonplace; draining law enforcement and penal resources, which are ill-equipped to manage the most seriously mentally ill, and it must change.
LEAN supports long-overdue action and investment by Congress and state legislatures to expand mental health care options and system capacity. Those in crisis should be more effectively managed by health care professionals wherever possible, diverting law enforcement to criminality and channeling those needing psychological care away from local jails and state prisons.
Similarly, America must find ways that compassionately manages a growing number of citizens who need drug abuse and addiction treatment rather than incarceration. LEAN supports evaluation of evidence-based drug treatment options, including successful drug court models, which divert illegal drug users away from overcrowded and underfunded prisons.