Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that stop building more prisons to address violent crime and instead provide more hospital and counseling services to lawbreakers who are mentally ill as she urged politicians.
New York Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Rep. Jamaal Bowman, called on Congress to earmark $400,000 toward a program called “Stand Up To Violence,” which seeks to address gun violence through counseling and community outreach.
Ocasio-Cortez said it was “not acceptable” to use jails as “garbage bins.”
Violent crimes are up dramatically across the country. In Chicago, shootings are up 36% over last year and homicides are up 19%. In South Carolina, murders were up nearly 25% in 2020 versus 2019; the 571 murders are the highest total since the state started recording those numbers back in 1960. As of May 7, homicides in Atlanta are up approximately 60% compared to the same period last year. A study of 34 U.S. cities discovered that homicides have spiked by 24% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same time last year and are up by 49% compared to the first quarter of 2019. 63 of the 66 largest cities in the United States experienced increases in at least one category of violent crimes in 2020.
In New York City, the murder rate skyrocketed by 47% last year, and this year it is up 17%. Last summer, when violent crime rates were soaring, AOC hypothesized that the crime rate was spiking because people were shoplifting bread.
“If we want to reduce violent crime, if we want to reduce the number of people in our jails, the answer is to stop building more of them,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The answer is to make sure that we build more hospitals, we pay organizers, we get people mental health care and overall health care, employment, etc. It’s to support communities, not throw them away.”
The New York Rep. slammed jails as “garbage bins” for people who are suffering from mental health issues.
“When you open a door to a jail and look at who is inside an enormous amount of people are dealing with untreated mental health issues,” she said.
“It is not acceptable for us to use jails as garbage bins for human beings. We need to treat people and so it is not a place for us to throw people for whom we do not want to invest in the actual holistic issues of their lives.”
— The Recount (@therecount) June 3, 2021
AOC’s comments come amid a spike in violent crime in the city. Shooting incidents were up 86 percent in May compared to a year, according to the NYPD.
AOC’s simple fix for the overwhelming violent crime spike was lampooned by many.
Freelance journalist Zaid Jilani reacted by saying, “This is wrong, many prisoners are overcrowded and antiquated, simply blocking the construction of new ones is inhumane. And you can talk all you want about just having fewer prisoners but you aren’t going to get any significant drop overnight, everyone knows that.”
National Review senior writer David Harsanyi ridiculed AOC’s proposal, “I am going to stop buying scales. It’s the only real way to lose weight.”
Daily Caller editor Cabot Phillips flipped AOC’s elementary resolution and used her argument against her, “If we want to reduce the number of people in our hospitals, stop building more of them.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was also at the press conference and looked on as AOC proposed the idea to halt the construction of prisons.
In January, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not rule out a primary challenge against Schumer.
“I’m not playing coy or anything like that. I’m still very much in a place where I’m trying to decide what is the most effective thing I can do to help our Congress, our [political] process, and our country address the issues of climate change, health care, wage inequality, etc.,” AOC said.
She was also previously called for defunding the police and previously attacked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s (D) proposal to cut nearly $1 billion from the New York City Police Department by saying it doesn’t go far enough, and “defunding police means defunding police.”
“These proposed ‘cuts’ to NYPD’s budget are a disingenuous illusion,” AOC said last June. “This is not a victory. The fight to defund policing continues.”