A: I think that the results--not only at the federal level but at the state level--have been an unacceptable increase in incarceration across the board & now we have to address that. At the time, there were reasons why the Congress wanted to push through a certain set of penalties and increase prison construction and there was a lot of support for that across a lot of communities. Itís hard to remember now but the crime rate in the early 1990s was very high. But weíve got to take stock now of the consequences, so thatís why I want to have a thorough review of all of the penalties, of all the kinds of sentencing, and more importantly start having more diversion and having more second chance programs.
A: I believe weíve got to decrease the disparity that exists. It is really unconscionable that someone who uses five grams of crack cocaine, compared to 500 grams of powder cocaine would face such disparate sentencing. And itís further compounded because the possession of crack cocaine really is unique in the way that it leads directly to prison for so many people. So I am going to tackle the disparity. I think it definitely needs to be prospective on principle. I have problems with retroactivity. I think that itís something that a lot of communities will be concerned about as well, so letís tackle this disparity, letís take it on. The sentencing commission hasnít come forward yet with its specific recommendation but Iím looking forward to seeing it.
DODD: I donít see a need for the draft. I donít believe that is necessary. But if you are going to have one I think it ought to be gender neutral.
Q: If it did not necessarily mean military service, should the country examine registering women at 18?
EDWARDS: Yes. But itís absolutely crucial that we ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war. As with John Kennedyís call to action, I think we need a president who asks Americans to sacrifice.
KUCINICH: We have to say no to a draft.
BIDEN: Yes ,and there should be universal service.
OBAMA: Yes. Every young person should have that opportunity to serve and do something that is bigger than themselves.
RICHARDSON: Yes. And I outlined a plan two years of college tuition paid off by the government, one year of national service
A: I deeply regret the way the Republicans are politicizing this issue. They are trying to outdo each other in basically demeaning and attacking those who are here in our country--yes, without documentation--but who are often doing the work that allows raising their families and making a contribution. The answer is comprehensive immigration reform. We have to keep working towards it. Yes, weíve got to have tougher border security. We do have to crack down on employers who exploit and employee undocumented people. Weíve got to do more to help local communities bear the costs of it. Because they donít set immigration laws. Weíve got to do more with our neighbors to the south to help them create more economic opportunity for their own people but at the end of the day there has to be an earned path to legalization.
We have a lot of work to do. And whoever holds up his or her hand to take the oath of office on January 20th 2009 will have to begin immediately to repair the damage that has been done by the Bush/Cheney administration, but more importantly to restore pride in our country again.
Iím running for president to make it clear that we will make progress together and I hope that I can earn your support.
A: In New York City we have seen the transformation of Harlem from a combination of government action creating an empowerment zone, the private sector coming in to take advantage of that and an explosion of entrepreneurial dynamism. Weíve also seen the faith based community like Abyssinians & others that have been partners with it and of course weíve seen a lot of hip hop participants and leaders taking advantage of that. So we need this partnership. We need this partnership between the public and private sector and the not-for-profit and faith-based sector. And we need to make sure that young people have a particular stake in what we are going to present. Thatís what Iíve worked on in NYC and in upstate NY and I intend to put that to work when Iím president.
The above quotations are from 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum, moderated by NPR, and broadcast on HDNet, from Des Moines, Iowa, Dec. 1, 2007.
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