For me, polite conversation gets real when you dance on people's issues. But in this conversation, I was called out for being insensitive to the life experiences of my conservative interlocutors. Although there wasn't much common ground politically, there was some surprising rapprochement personally.
To have a fair and even playing field for all who face the criminal justice system, it is essential that indigent defendants have access to an effective lawyer at their bail hearings. The federal and state governments must recognize the critical importance of a lawyer's presence during the pretrial stage.
When a nonviolent offender spends a decade or more of their life behind bars because of mandatory minimum sentencing, no one benefits. When those who have paid their debt to society cannot find housing or a job, the entire economy suffers. When a generation of young Americans advance through our prison system instead of our school system, our nation is weaker for it.
In early June, the ACLU commissioned a nationwide poll of registered voters who are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election. The results, released Wednesday, demonstrate that we have arrived at a bipartisan moment where majorities of Americans no longer believe our criminal justice system serves the common good.