Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has joined mayors from nine other U.S. cities, including New York City, Seattle, Denver and Philadelphia, to call for replacing “tough on crime” policies and strategies with “smart” ones.
Tough on crime laws and policies, which date back decades, led to more arrests and longer prison sentences but had a disproportionate impact on minority populations and has contributed to one in three Americans having arrest records, according to the group of mayors and the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning research and educational organization.
Lengthier jail and prison sentences and higher incarceration rates have a minimal long-term impact on crime but have lifelong effects on predominantly black and Latino and Hispanic communities, center representatives said.
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Whaley and other mayors call for using data and evidence-based strategies to reform the criminal justice system, including prevention, diversion and re-entry programs.
The mayors will share best practices and promote policies that make communities safer and improve community-police relations, Whaley said.
She said she’s proud of the work of Dayton’s Community Police Council and initiatives that break down barriers between law enforcement and public, such as Coffee with a Cop.
She praised Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl for spearheading what she said are some of the city’s successful initiatives.
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In Dayton, all of the city’s first responders are equipped with Naloxone, a medication that prevents fatal drug overdoses. Whaley has been a leading advocate for comprehensive, public health approaches to combating the opioid crisis, according to Smart on Crime supporters.
In Denver, police and behavioral health professionals jointly respond to some calls to help divert people away from the criminal justice system and into treatment.
Boston’s summer jobs program, which connects young people to work experiences, has been credited with reducing criminal activity among program participants.
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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said crime is at a 40-year low because of efforts to “decriminalize minor offenses, increase diversion and re-entry programs, strengthen police-community relations, and proactively engage at-risk communities who are not already engaged by the city.”
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