John Delaney's plan for Criminal Justice Reform

There are far too many people imprisoned in America, and the racial disparities in our criminal justice system are shameful.

African Americans, who are approximately 13% of the US population, make up 40% of the incarcerated population.1 Delaney was proud to support the First Step Act, but more needs to be done to reform our immoral criminal justice system.

Sentencing and Prison Reform

  • End mandatory minimums. Harsh sentencing guidelines that grant judges limited flexibility keep our incarceration rate high and do little to reduce recidivism. Additionally, reducing minimum sentences will lead to smaller prison populations and ease overcrowding in correctional facilities.
    • Delaney will limit the use of solitary confinement in the federal prison system.
  • Encourage alternatives to incarceration for certain nonviolent offenses and for offenders under the age of 18. We need a criminal justice system focused on rehabilitation that provides appropriate health resources to people struggling with mental health problems or substance abuse, and does everything possible to reduce recidivism.
    • Delaney opposes charging juveniles as adults.
  • End or limit the use of money bail in the federal criminal justice system and encourage states to pursue similar reforms. People being held before facing trial make up approximately 23% of the incarcerated population in the US, and most jurisdictions use a money bail system that is excessive, discriminatory, and costly for taxpayers and communities.
  • Increase federal support for recidivism reduction programs that have proven to be effective.
  • Delaney will end the death penalty.
  • End for-profit prisons.

Police Reform

  • Provide federal funding for training and support for police officers designed to prevent racial profiling and encourage de-escalation.
  • Increase funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.
    • Ensure that police departments and first responders, particularly those who serve in areas with high crime rates, have the funding and support that they need.
  • Restore the Department of Justice’s authority to intervene in local police departments with a pattern of abuse and misconduct, which was an Obama administration priority.
  • Increase federal funding for body cameras.

Civil Rights

  • Automatically restore voting rights after a sentence has been served. People who have paid their debt to society should be free to participate in our democratic process without having to navigate burdensome requirements.
  • Promote ban the box policies.
  • Increase federal funding for state public defenders.


  • Remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
  • Direct federal prosecutors to review past cases and identify and petition to expunge any records related to minor non-violent offenses like simple possession.
  • Implement strong federal guidelines and regulations to support decisions at the state level.
  • Impose a 25% federal excise tax on marijuana, with revenue dedicated to grants for state public defenders, medical and public health research, addiction treatment, and education and job training programs.

Download a pdf of this plan here.


  1. “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019.” Prison Policy Initiative, 2019.