Billionaire and Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg arrived in downtown Jackson yesterday to discuss criminal-justice reform during a closed-door roundtable with Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba and local community leaders.
Following the private meeting, the former New York City mayor revealed to members of the press that he is running on a criminal-justice reform platform. He promised to cut the United States prison population in half by 2024, eliminate juvenile incarceration for non-violent offenses, invest in alternatives to incarceration initiatives, and fund local violence-interruption efforts across the country.
Criminal justice reform is particularly urgent in the State of Mississippi, which has the third highest incarceration rate in the country and the largest black population, a demographic that the U.S. justice system continues to disproportionately criminalize.
Since announcing his campaign for the presidency on Nov. 24, Bloomberg has responded to criticisms for his role in ramping up the controversial "stop-and-frisk" street-policing program when he was mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013. The program, which allows officers to stop, question and search people without a warrant on the grounds of suspicious activity, disproportionately targeted African American and Latino men between the ages of 18 to 24 under Bloomberg's tenure. Most of them were innocent, but were nevertheless initiated into the criminal-justice system as a result of contact with police.
"I made a mistake. I was wrong, I regret it, but I can't undo history," Bloomberg told reporters at the Smith Robertson Museum, which focuses on African American history.
"What I can do is continue to work as hard as I can to make sure that we stop all of the murders and shootings," he said, adding that he hoped to "take back to New York ideas that the private sector can implement."
Bloomberg had not apologized for his administration's harsh application of stop-and-frisk until after he