Queens, NY – Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez kicked off her latest call for criminal justice reform by likening incarceration to slavery and calling for the abolition of prisons in a series of tweets on Monday.
“I know the term ‘prison abolition’ is breaking some people’s brains,” Ocasio-Cortez lamented in one tweet. “The right is already freaking out.”
Ocasio-Cortez launched her latest diatribe on the back of a tweet by comedienne Chelsea Handler, who complained about the amount of jail time given to a 21-year-old Florida man who overslept jury duty.
“10 days. He’s spending the same amount of time in jail that parents who committed college bribery are spending. Why? Because he’s black,” Handler tweeted.
Deandre Summerville had already been selected as the only African American member of a Palm Beach County jury when he overslept and failed to show up for jury duty, causing a delay for the entire trial.
At his sentencing, the judge pointed out that the court had been counting on Summerville to “represent a very important cross-section of our jury” and sentenced him to 10 days in jail, one year of probation, 150 hours of community service, and a $223 fine.
“Mass incarceration is our American reality. It is a system whose logic evolved from the same lineage as Jim Crow, American apartheid, & slavery,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “To end it, we have to change. That means we need to have a real conversation about decarceration & prison abolition in this country.”
She then launched into a story about a woman she said she spoke with the morning prior.
Ocasio-Cortez claimed that the woman was “thrown in Rikers as a teenager,” and that she was placed in “solitary confinement for MONTHS, aka torture.”
She was “force-fed pills” and “had drank out of toilets” due to poor conditions inside the prison, according to the congresswoman.
“A cage is a cage is a cage,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “And humans don’t belong in them.”
She noted that the United States “incarcerates more than anywhere in the world,” and declared that the country has “more than enough room to close many of our prisons and explore just alternatives to incarceration.”
According to Ocasio-Cortez, “many people in jailed or in prison don’t belong there at all” and are only incarcerated because of their socioeconomic status.
“Whether it’s punitive sentencing for marijuana possession or jailing people for their poverty & letting the rich free through systems like cash bail, we wrongly incarcerate far, far too many people,” she tweeted.
Ocasio-Cortez alleged that prisons have been used “as de facto mental hospitals, homeless shelters, & detox centers,” thereby using funds that she said could be better applied in actual programming.
“If we invested meaningfully, what do you think would happen to crime?” she asked.
But despite all of her declarations and demands, Ocasio-Cortez had little to offer about what her “prison abolition” plan would mean for violent criminals.
“People tend to say ‘what do you do with all the violent people?’ as a defense for incarcerating millions,” she tweeted, just before she passed off finding the answer to that question to people other than herself.
“Our lawmaking process means we come to solutions together, &either way we should work to an end where our prison system is dramatically smaller than it is today,” her side-stepping tweet read.