Oakland Police Department has a long history of misusing their authority on ordinary citizens, from protestors in Oscar Grant Plaza to youth of color walking down the street. We must have a mechanism to hold police accountable for their actions. Currently, citizens must go to Internal Affairs within the Police Department to make a complaint, which is unacceptable for a person who feels they have been wronged or abused by a member of the police force. Although the city council made a decision to place this process within Citizens’ Police Review Board (CPRB), this change has not moved forward, and the process remains within Internal Affairs. It is critical to reverse this situation and ensure that citizens are the ones reviewing complaints against police, and not those within the police department.
The Oakland Greens are appalled by the recent proposition to purchase a surveillance drone for Alameda County. We are concerned about how this drone would be used, who would be targeted by the surveillance, and where the funds for this purchase would come from. We are also very concerned by the proposed Domain Awareness Center, which would serve as a centralized surveillance resource, with access to video cameras, license plate readers, and gunshot detectors across the city. The police have lost our trust, and we are not comfortable with increasing their surveillance of citizens in this city when we cannot count on them to be fair and judicious in their use of such technology.
Incarceration damages families. A majority of incarcerated individuals have children, who are then cut off from the emotional and financial support their parents may have provided. Incarceration does little to nothing to help individuals prepare to re-enter society, and those who have been incarcerated are commonly denied employment and any form of state assistance. Restorative justice and other less punitive approaches should be the first choice in addressing crime, while incarceration should be limited to those truly posing a threat to the community. “Victimless” crimes such as drug possession and prostitution must also be decriminalized. Little, if any, benefit comes from incarcerating individuals, while there are great costs to families, society, and taxpayers.
In addition to limiting the number of those we incarcerate, conditions within prisons must not only be humane, but rehabilitative. Solitary confinement is not humane, and has no place in our prison system (see more on the fight against solitary confinement here). Inmates must also be allowed to communicate with their families, and the fee for phone calls must be kept at a minimum. Inmates must also be provided with educational opportunities, decent food, and activities that encourage rehabilitation.