By IJPC program managers Jessie Frank and Samantha Searls
No matter your color on the political spectrum, everyone can agree that this November’s election is important. Each of IJPC’s core issues will be impacted by the election, from the presidential race to those at the bottom of the ballot. While IJPC cannot support or endorse any candidate running for office, we do encourage our supporters not only to vote, but to make educated decisions about voting. Below, we’ve compiled some brief thoughts and resources meant to be a starting point for those curious to learn more about IJPC’s issues and how November’s outcomes could affect them.
In Ohio, executions have slowed significantly over the past four years, with only three total executions occurring, the last of which was in 2018. Questions about the constitutionality of available execution drugs have stalled executions in Ohio and elsewhere. Because of an Ohio ruling, Governor Mike DeWine ordered the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to find a new lethal injection protocol that would pass constitutional challenges. As a result, he has delayed every scheduled execution since early 2019. We are hopeful that in the coming four years, Ohio can take important steps to not only reform the death penalty, but eventually abolish it altogether.
Before this summer, the federal government had not executed anyone since 2003. Even since capital punishment was reinstated in 1988, the federal government had only executed three total individuals. But since this July, the federal government has executed seven people, despite the fact that the federal lethal injection method is still tied up in courts.
Your county prosecutor and judges play a key role in how much and under what circumstances a county uses the death penalty. Additionally, state representatives and senators can play a key role in supporting anti-death penalty legislation. The president and his administration will decide whether we will continue to execute people on the federal level. Be sure to know who is on the ballot, and if you can’t find their stance on the death penalty, don’t be afraid to call their office to hear their opinion.
After 9/11, the federal government shifted its view on immigration from a system of economic exchange to a system of national security. This restrictive approach has led to increased immigration enforcement and detention, limited access to visas and green cards, and a militarized border. In recent years, humanitarian programs for asylum seekers and refugees have been dismantled, leaving the most vulnerable to face persecution or even death. Every single part of our federal immigration system has been manipulated to keep people out and inflict the most pain on innocent families.
If we hope to undo the harm that has been caused over the past few years, we need to know where the candidates stand on rebuilding our immigration system to be better than it was. Local elections may not seem important in this specific conversation, but county Sheriffs and other local officials around the country have been pressured to use their local resources to enforce federal immigration law. Sanctuary cities, 287(g) contracts with ICE, and voluntary collaboration with Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have been big issues in Ohio.
The anti-human trafficking movement has been known for it’s bipartisan collaboration to serve those who’ve been victimized by labor or sex trafficking. It’s been a political miracle, especially in Congress, and has resulted in some groundbreaking pieces of legislation like the federal Trafficking Victims Protections Act. In recent years, as experts started questioning how and why the unjust system of human trafficking is perpetuated, deeper conversations about poverty and inequality have emerged. Those conversations have splintered the political spirit of collaboration by creating a narrative of who is worthy of help and who isn’t.
As a country, we need to address underlying systems of oppression that make certain groups of people more vulnerable to being trafficked. We need our elected officials to care about the migrant farmworker as much as they care about children who are sex trafficked. Our local, state and federal officials have the power to redirect resources, create new programs to support survivors and shine light on the threads of oppression that allow trafficking to flourish. If we hope to end human trafficking once and for all, we need to come together instead of being pulled apart by our differences.
Peace and Nonviolence
The prevalence of an open white supremacist culture has raised racial tensions in ways that have resulted in violence, and last November we saw the highest levels of hate crime violence in 16 years. In Cincinnati, if current trends continue, this year could be the highest year ever when it comes to gun violence deaths. Outrage at police violence and a lack of accountability have pushed community members to demand real justice and challenge the viability of our current institutions. Globally, violence and hate continue among countries, and the US continues to instigate conflicts for capitalist gain. The US military budget and its nuclear arms spending continue to increase, both of which threaten peace. The US Department of Defense is also the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world and a key contributor to climate change. Without a viable planet, no other issue will matter.