The Iowa Standard reached out to all federal and state legislative candidates to find out where they stand on the idea of defunding police and abolishing both the police and prisons. This idea is supported by Des Moines Black Lives Matter.
Republican Sarah Abdouch is challenging Democrat Rep. Charlie McConkey in House District 15.
“Thank you for your question.
Let me start by pulling the frame a bit further back to the broader topic of criminal justice reform. One of my primary critiques of criminal justice reform today is that it focuses on softening penalties for those actively committing crimes, simply because they are deemed “non-violent” offenders. This approach lacks recognition of the steep drop in violent crime rates correlated with the so-called “war on drugs”. Justice is still the primary requirement of a criminal justice system. The crackdown on drug offenses that were non-violent led to immense growth in safety for everyone. Why? Because the delineation between violent and non-violent offenders is a false dichotomy. The criminal who intends to burglarize a vacant home non-violently may become violent when he finds his mark to be occupied contrary to his expectations. On the other hand, simply because it wasn’t occupied at the time doesn’t mean that the offense is less grave. Burglarizing a home inherently endangers the homeowner’s life and if, by accident, they are not there so they are not put in danger, that’s hardly reason to attribute less criminality to the act.
With that context in mind as among my general premises, I can say I do not in any way support the abolishment of police or prisons. Nor do I support the current push for criminal justice reform. Reform should be focused on post-punishment non-recidivists, who have done their time and then demonstrated a willingness to reenter society and become useful members of it. It should not be focused on lightening the load of those currently breaking the laws or serving time now.
But the question is, what should we do about police and prisons? I agree that policing does need reform. And I also agree that, within the current system, prisons seem to create a pipeline back into themselves. Prison reform as a whole is a topic too complicated to tackle in this response, but before anything else, the qualifier should be stated that the system is not as broken as people try to make it out to be anecdotally. I believe that sentencing should remain as it is for the most part, and in many cases needs to be harsher, particularly when it comes to the offenses of rape, stalking, and murder. Murder of a police officer on duty, for example, should always be a capital offense. Additionally, while all the talk about justice reform has been focused on the “non-violent” side, there has also been an effort to quietly ease the burden of those engaging in abhorrently violent acts as well, which I find unconscionable.
However, I recognize the need for better reintegration and restoration options for those prior convicts who have served their time and made restitution, and genuinely want to return to society. I’ve seen the cycle play out within my own family, with examples of those who struggled to reintegrate despite desiring to, and those who seem to prefer prison. I do not, under any circumstances, want to create a scenario where the latter example would be let out more frequently. In fact, I think after enough demonstrations of behavior inconsistent with civilized society, at some point we must decide to throw away the key. To not do so, in the face of repeated, violent offenses is to only endanger the vulnerable in our society. No one walking around free today should be doing so with 30+ felony convictions under their belt. Better put, I would question how many times we should release someone to create more victims before we decide they’ve forfeited their rights for good.
Now, in regards to police reform, I think the answer is relatively simple: fund the police.
I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek, but my stance isn’t far from that truthfully. Police officers need to be able to add to their ranks so they can devote more of their work hours to training, including practical hand-to-hand combat, and be allowed to maintain a healthy work-life balance in a very stressful job. Generally, I think front-line officers should be paid more. I definitely think we need to reduce the administrative overload and eliminate the politics that have crept into policing. These cops on the beat deal with the harshest realities of our society. While oversight is important, police officers should not feel a bureaucrat breathing down their neck every minute they wear their badge. Too many officers have been killed or injured because they hesitated in the face of a violent offender, because they had to weigh what would happen to them if they fired their gun. We need, as a society, to worry less about the lives and feelings of criminals, and worry far more about protecting the innocent and those who defend our laws on the front lines.
But on that note, let’s address the reason we’re even having this discussion in the first place: The Black Lives Matter organization.
There is a sharp dichotomy between those like me who believe in law and order, and those like Black Lives Matter (herein BLM) who care more about protecting criminals than the innocent, and this distinction should lay at the heart of our discourse. I find it hard to take anything BLM says seriously when they demonstrate their lack of care for black lives every day.
The biggest threats to black lives in America are the violent offenders within their communities who have no respect or regard for human lives. People like Jacob Blake. People like George Floyd. People like Ricardo Munoz. People like Mike Brown. These men were all violent, perpetual offenders whose own actions cost them their lives, while they were in the process of creating more victims. These are men whose primary victims were black, who would assault someone for a mere pack of cigarettes. They are of the same ilk as the man who shot David Dorn to death for a television. Who are their victims supposed to turn to? What is the force that stands between them and the innocent? The police.
It can be safely conjectured that BLM has already led to the deaths of far more black people than the police have killed in even the last few decades combined. If we limit the deaths caused by police to only those that were unjustified, that’s certainly true. When we have soaring murder rates in black-majority communities across the country as a direct result of BLM’s rhetoric, it’s hard to draw any conclusion other than that BLM is the biggest threat to black people in America today. To take the demands of these domestic terrorists seriously is like a zebra taking the demands of the lion to devour it into consideration. I dismiss BLM wholesale and anything associated with them, because they have failed on their single, fundamental tenant: black lives matter.
No group thinks less of black lives than BLM, if we judge solely on the fruit they’ve borne. And I happen to think black lives do matter and that they are undervalued, so I couldn’t despise BLM more. Black lives are undervalued by their mothers, who, as a segment of the population, abort their children at astonishingly high rates, hundreds of thousands–nearly half a percent of the black population in the United States–every year. Black lives are undervalued in communities where black-on-black crime is rampant and homicide is among the top ten causes of death for young black men. Black people are undervalued as Americans, where we designate them by this artificial, all-encompassing title “African-American” or “the black community”, as though they were in some type of sub-class instead of being equal individuals and citizens.
We should not be taking demands from radicals like BLM. We should not accept their premise of the supremacy of skin color in our discourse. We should not accept their war to weaken and destroy those institutions that stand as the protectors of us all. Their war is on law itself, America herself, and all within her borders. That is why we cannot cede this ground. We cannot let them cut out a whole segment of our population from the dream of America based on nothing but race.
I apologize for the length, but I’ve spoken my piece. We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”