What does safety mean to you? Does it include an end to mass incarceration and police violence?
If you think of times you’ve truly felt safe, you’re probably thinking of a lot more than the absence of violence. That’s a bare minimum, but it’s not enough.
Maybe you’re thinking of family and friends. Of stability. Of feeling like you’re where you belong, maybe even where you can be your best self.
That’s what real safety is. It comes from the things that bolster our families and help us realize our best selves: from community, from work with dignity, from education, and from giving something back.
Our country has a long way to go to provide real safety through our government policies. This year, we’ll spend $7.5 billion to send Americans to federal prisons. That’s more than ten times what we spent for federal prisons forty years ago (adjusted for inflation). Our national policy of mass incarceration has left in its wake a series of broken lives and broken families. This is not what safety looks like.
If we took that $7.5 billion and asked how we might create real safety, we could instead create more than 130,000 jobs in infrastructure. Or 75,000 jobs with work supports like child care and transportation in high poverty communities. Or send 885,000 children to Head Start. Or provide full, four-year college scholarships to more than a quarter million students.
If we want real safety for our communities, we have choices. Your community has choices, and you can take steps to change those choices: