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Resolutions & Amendments

34th International Convention - Philadelphia (2000)

The Crisis in Our Criminal Justice System

Resolution No. 61
34th International Convention
June 26 - 30, 2000
Philadelphia, PA


Tens of thousands of AFSCME members are employed in the criminal justice system in occupations ranging from police officers to public defenders and prosecutors, court administrative personnel, parole and probation officers and corrections officers; and


The resources devoted to support that system have not kept pace with the increased volume of its workload, leading to clogged court dockets, the contracting of defense work to untrained and incompetent counsel, overburdened prosecutors and parole and probation officers and to overcrowded and understaffed prisons and jails and poorly run, profit-oriented private prisons; and


At the same time that public concern about crime has been heightened, its faith in the criminal justice system has been shaken by revelations of police scandals in some of our major cities, the lack of adequate counsel in capital murder cases, and stories of private prison operators so anxious to make a profit that they allow low paid, poorly trained staff to oversee badly run prisons in which attacks on both inmates and staff are commonplace, endangering our communities; and


In order to attract the resources necessary for AFSCME members to fulfill their duties, it is imperative that faith in the criminal justice system be restored and that equality before the law become not only the rhetoric but the reality in our nation; and


The overwhelming majority of our members who work in the criminal justice system are honest, hard working professionals who desperately need and want all Americans to have faith in the criminal justice system and whose image is besmirched by those who corrupt our criminal justice system.


That AFSCME advocate for measures that will root out any corruption which exists in our criminal justice system and that will eliminate reliance on poorly trained, incompetent attorneys and profiteering prison operators; and


That AFSCME support measures to ensure that anyone facing the death penalty has a full and fair opportunity to establish their innocence through the accessibility of competent counsel, the use of DNA and other advanced technological testing where appropriate and a thorough review of all relevant records; and


That AFSCME will support measures which provide more resources for the criminal justice system so that the court dockets become unclogged and justice is swift; so that adequate numbers of public defenders, prosecutors and probation and parole officers are hired and trained to ensure the proper handling of criminal cases and the proper monitoring of those convicted and so that our jails and prisons are publicly owned and operated and staffed by an adequate number of professional, trained personnel to ensure safety not only within the confines of the prison walls but in the surrounding communities.



Resolutions Committee