Woody Myers Unveils Wide-Ranging Criminal Justice Reform Plan

Jun 24, 2020

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Woody Myers discusses his criminal justice reform plan during a virtual interview.
Credit Screenshot of Zoom call

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Woody Myers unveiled a criminal justice reform plan that mandates new training for police, shifts funding to social services and decriminalizes marijuana.

The proposals comes in the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality and injustice against Black people.

The plan includes reducing the prison population, investing in minority communities, measures to address police brutality and more oversight of law enforcement.

He does not agree with the phrase “defund the police” – though parts of his plan align with some who advocate that policy. He wants to reprioritize funding toward "holistic, inter-sectional approaches in public safety" – for instance, helping mental health professionals address what he views as mental health challenges.

“I would just prefer that we do more of that so that our police can truly deal with the violent crimes that are out there,” Myers said.

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Myers does not call for curtailing the power of police unions, which many have pushed for in recent weeks.

“I worry about imposing a set of conditions without the opportunity at least for dialogue, without the opportunity at least to bring the unions along,” Myers said.

He does want greater transparency in police union contracts.

The Indianapolis Democrat says some of his proposals are a “dramatic expansion” of existing reforms – the use of more specialty courts that pursue rehabilitation instead of incarceration, for instance.

“We just gotta push a lot faster; that gas pedal needs to go all the way down to the floor now,” Myers said.

Myers wants new and expanded training for law enforcement in areas like implicit bias and de-escalation. But some point to recent cases around the country where officers who had completed such training were charged after killing Black men and women.

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Myers rejects the notion training isn’t effective; he said it must be better and more collaborative.

“People can’t look at it as ‘Oh, this is something we have to do because the chief said it or the community board said it,’" Myers said. "The officers should look at it as an opportunity, an opportunity to engage in a discussion that’s going to help them be more successful in the community and to create the kind of outcomes and the relationships with the community that we want.”

Myers said he also wants no-tolerance policies and procedures, along with independent oversight of police misconduct.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.