Ending the School to Prison Pipeline
The school-to-prison pipeline is a trend wherein public schools use policies that push children out of classrooms and into the Juvenile and Criminal Justice System. This trend manifests itself in so-called zero-tolerance policies where any undesirable behavior or minor infraction of school rules can result in punishment or removal in restraints. Furthering the trend, many American schools have enacted other exclusionary policies, such as having armed police inside the schools, ending programs that benefit children with disabilities, and looking to punish rather than understand and help to challenge emotional outbursts and minor misbehavior. Zero tolerance policies and police in school are made worse by overburdened teachers and faculty, a lack of trained counselors and nurses, a lack of funding, and hyper-focus on standardized test scores. This trend is ultimately another example of institutional racism, as it disproportionately targets and harms black children, children with disabilities, LGBTQIA children, and children with family difficulties.
These policies favor incarceration over restorative practices and education. Dr. Ameena Matthews believes that all children deserve the chance to build healthy relationships and to grow and learn in a safe environment, without the constant threat of incarceration.
Privatized Prison Abolition, Criminal Justice Reform
Dr. Ameena Matthews wants to ensure human rights and dignities are maintained within the Criminal Justice System by reducing incarceration rates, especially for non-violent offenses, and ending the era of mass incarceration and for-profit prisons. Root out discrimination within the justice system and eliminate it to ensure equity and real justice.
Ensure that survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner abuse, and abuse of children and people with disabilities have a voice and do not have their lives ripped apart so as to find justice is also critical to successful reform.
Dr. Ameena Matthews believes that transforming a juvenile and criminal justice system that subjects children to abuse and neglect without providing necessary medical, mental health, educational and rehabilitative services must also be a priority.
Dr. Ameena Matthews believes in a future in which all women have equal rights and protections. A future where marginalized women have equal access and opportunities. A future where women, including black women, native women, women with disabilities, all women of color, Trans women, immigrant women, religious and non-religious women, are all protected from discrimination in hiring, housing, and reproductive rights.
Women’s rights are human rights. We must ensure equitable access to healthcare, childcare, housing, equal pay, paid leave, and to be treated with dignity and fairness. Federal steps to end pay and hiring discrimination, especially against marginalized women must be taken as both the pay gap and gender- based hiring discrimination continue to do harm.
Sex and gender discrimination must not be allowed to stand in a free democratic society.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and people of other marginalized sexuality and genders deserve to live openly without discrimination.
The Equality Act would go a long way to ensure equal rights and protections for LGBTQIA+ people on a federal level, explicitly including sexuality and gender identity in the protections of existing civil rights law.
We need an amendment to existing civil rights law because the greatly lacking tapestry of state and local anti-discrimination laws fail to protect the most marginalized LGBT+ people. LGBTQIA+ people experience discrimination in employment, housing, schools, and even medical care. LGBTQIA+ people of color suffer discrimination at double those rates..
The regulation of firearms, including the requirement of licenses for all gun ownership and the institution of universal background checks, are vital to keeping our communities and our children safe. Closing the current loopholes to require background checks for online and gun show sales is also critical.
Though few studies have been allowed on the topic, those that do exist show that states with more permissive gun laws have more mass shootings. We need to end the gun lobby’s hold over our people.
Dr. Ameena Matthews believes our country should ensure that immigrants are treated fairly, equally, and with dignity. Immigrant families should not be forced to live in fear of deportation or illegal and unfair apprehension by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
We must put an end to inhumane and unsafe detention centers and systemic abuses within the immigration court and detention system.
All children need to have legal counsel for immigration hearings so that no child faces these systems alone. No child is equipped to deal with immigration proceedings on their own, let alone in a discriminatory system. It is imperative that we ensure that even the youngest immigrants and asylum seekers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve
Mental health issues are key in the systemic problems that have impacted the lives of our people. In the past few years, many facilities have been denied funding, causing them to close and leave their patients without care. These facilities have provided services to those who have mental health issues that require treatment and assistance in daily living. They can no longer take care of those who need assistance until they are allowed to operate with proper funding. Dr. Ameena Matthews recognizes this is a crisis that has contributed to the increase in the populations of prisons, due to the lack of quality care for mental health trauma. There have to be real solutions in place to represent the people who live on a daily basis with mental health issues and struggle because they don’t receive adequate treatment. She will fight for the funding to be allocated for the those who suffer with mental health challenges to receive the quality care they deserve.