Cory Booker

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is an American politician who is the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He was first elected in 2006, and had served as a City Councilor from 1998 to 2002

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corybooker1606 karma

This is a profound question. Let me give you another NJ statistic: Blacks make up less than 15% of our New Jersey's population but make up more than 60% of our prison population. I can't accept that facts like this one do anything but demonstrate the historic and current biases in our criminal justice system. I strongly recommend people read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander it has very compelling parts and data. People should not see these facts and this discussion as an indictment of any one race, sector, or occupation, it should be seen as a call to all of us to do the difficult things to make a change because this isn't a "black" problem this is an American problem.

The so called War on Drugs has not succeeded in making significant reductions in drug use, drug arrests or violence. We are pouring huge amounts of our public resources into this current effort that are bleeding our public treasury and unnecessarily undermining human potential. I see the BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of dollars being poured into the criminal justice system here in New Jersey and it represents big overgrown government at its worst. We should be investing dollars in programs and strategies that work not just to lower crime but work to empower lives.

It anguishes me how we seem to be so content with national and state recidivism rates of around 60% and how a staggering number of young black men are involved in the criminal justice system.

My police in Newark are involved in an almost ridiculous game of arresting the same people over and over again and when you talk to these men they have little belief that there is help or hope for them to break out of this cycle.

And it is a dangerous world for people caught up in the drug trade for it is so associated with violence. Data from Rutgers University is chilling: Over 80% of Newark's murder VICTIMS have been arrested before an average of 10 times.

I could go on but you asked about solutions and not about me reciting the problem.

Newark has attacked this problem in numerous ways:

  1. Reentry. We developed the state's first office of reentry, raised philanthropy and other grant dollars to support it and have some impressive data. Our office has connected well over 1,000 men and women with work and a number of our programs are producing some great results. One I will mention here is our Fatherhood program. The recidivism rate for this program has dropped among participants from over 60% for nonparticipants to 7% for participants. This one program has saved NJ taxpayers millions and actually helped contribute to our treasury because these folks are paying taxes and supporting their families. A little more about this program. Instead of condemning men for not being good fathers and preaching to them about how they should take care of their kids, this program looks to empower them in their fatherhood mission. The men are partnered with mentor dads, there are parenting classes, group activities with their kids and a partnership is created with the mother of the children. The men are helped with finding jobs and even with suits and more for interviews and work. All of this is so much cheaper than continued incarceration and it empowers participants (mostly black and latino) breaking the cycle of imprisonment. The challenge is funding . . . I work to raise money for it every year. Shouldn't we be investing in programs like these instead of pouring more and more dollars into programs that fail to achieve societal goals, perpetuate racial disparities and bleed countless tax dollars?

  2. Court reform . . . I discussed this in another answer but by having youth courts, veterans courts, drug courts and more, we are finding that we can empower people to stay out of jail and turn their lives around as opposed to get chewed up in the system. Court innovation is critical and Newark is leading the way in New Jersey thanks to great partners like The Center For Court Innovation in NYC.

  3. Jobs. It is so critical that we find ways to rapidly attach people to work when they come out of prison even if they are minimum wage transition jobs. Newark has done a lot in this area. I'm particularly proud of our Clean and Green program taking men and women right from returning from prison and giving them jobs helping to clean and green our city.

  4. Treatment. This is critical. Our state is just recently stepping up to expand treatment and make it a mandatory alternative to incarceration. In Newark we have some great treatment options but they too need more funding. Treatment saves taxpayer dollars, empowers individuals, stops recidivism, heals families and helps us all.

  5. Legal Help. Our nation's legal service and advocacy organizations are starving and so many people are getting chewed up by the criminal justice system just because they are poor and lack legal support. Newark New Jersey started our nations first ever pro bono legal service practice to support people coming home from prison. You would be amazed at the number of people who come out of prison, want to get a job and try to do the right thing but then their lives are entangled by countless legal problems and barriers that could be overcome with with some administrative legal support. Our program: Reentry Legal Service (ReLeSe), has given tremendous support to hundreds and hundreds of men and women coming home from prison, has helped them get ID, deal with outstanding warrants, expunge records and much more. And again, this program has saved taxpayer dollars by helping to liberate people from the cycle of recidivism.

  6. There is much more I can list in terms of things happening in Newark that point to solutions (I say "point to" because all of the things above are too small to deal with the thousand or more people that come home from prison each year in Newark and are supported by non-reoccurring grants and philanthropy - not sustainable streams of resources). But for my final point let me invoke the great Frederick Douglass.

Douglass says; "It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men." So much of this problem could be solved by strong education systems and other systems of support for our children before they get in trouble. So let me offer this as a final action item to heal our nation, end many insidious racial divisions and exalt our country's highest ideals. Mentoring. It takes 4 hours a month to mentor a child, the amount of time most watch TV in a day. There are hundreds of kids in Newark on waiting lists for a mentor: a positive adult in their lives who cares. Mentoring has demonstrated a profound ability to dramatically lower incarceration for youth and even lower early unsafe sex practices. And it has shown to boost youth outcomes from self-esteem to dramatically increasing school performance. EVERYONE who is qualified should be mentoring a child who is not their own OR encouraging others to do so OR supporting mentoring organizations. If every so-called "at risk" kid in Newark had a mentor we could dramatically end future crime in our city. So please advocate for policy changes, challenge our current system, fight for change but before you point fingers at all the things that aren't being done by others, look in the mirror at your self and ask could I be doing more for our kids.

In the end BIG changes are made most by small acts of kindness, decency, love and service.

corybooker1530 karma

Yes! Unequivocally I would consider running for President of the New Jersey Star Trek Club in 2016. I have been a lifelong Trekker and to run for such an important position would be the fulfillment of a childhood dream - up there with defending the Earth from The Borg. . . Now if you were talking about President of the United States. . . please. 44 people have held that position in the history of our country. We need to stop looking at that as the be all and end all of elected service. This country needs more people that focus on where they are and the urgent call to service before us. In fact, if we were to be honest, were do we need greater leaders right now - the White House or Congress. I believe Congress. I hope to join that great body and am strongly considering a run to do just that. My focus and passion right now has more to do with serving Newark in 2013 than anything happening in 2016. Oh and "Boldly Go for Booker For Enterprise Captain 2016!"

corybooker902 karma

I believe Barack Obama is a truly great leader and President. Any comparisons are simply flattering. I've known him since 2005 and was one of his earliest supporters in the North East and believe he should and will be reelected. That all said, here are some big differences between the president and I:

  1. When he came out of Law School he went to inner city chicago to become a community organizer. After Law school I went to Newark and became a neighborhood coordinator.

  2. He went to an elite highfalutin law school: Harvard. I went to a gritty, inner city, law school: Yale

  3. in 1961 the president was born in The United States. Contrary to him, I was born in Washington D.C. and it was 1969, given the challenges inside the beltway in those days I don't think they will be able to find my birth certificate.

corybooker808 karma

Jean-Luc Picard

  1. he's clearly the most captain-like of all the captains

  2. he has the best haircut of all the captains in the Universe

corybooker759 karma

You’re not alone in expressing this concern – I’ve heard it from others and really appreciate the students over the last month that have reached out to me over social media, my office, emails etc - many of the students haven't just asked for help or criticized but also offered help. For that, I'm grateful.

Our police department has been working around the clock to identify specific problems affecting the university and downtown areas and has made great progress. Allow me to first put this question in context. Since 2006 murders citywide are down 17%. Shooting incidents are down 27%. Rape is down 38%. Aggravated assault is down 12%. Auto theft is down 26%. Is it enough? Absolutely not. But this is progress that has meant thousnads and thousands of fewer victims of crime in our city. We’ve done this with fewer resources, as we’ve shared in the pain of the recession and subsequent budget cuts that have faced communities across the country.

So what has NPD done to address your specific NJIT and downtown area concerns? Over the past few months our police leadership and staff from my office sat with every university police department chiefs and members of their teams. We have determined how to better work together and share critical crime information. Just last month I brought my Police Director, Police Chief and other brass to sit with the Rutgers-Newark Chancellor and his team. We now share data that has never been shared before and do so on a weekly basis. We are engaged in a variety of interagency operations, including a joint NJIT Police, NJ Transit Police, and NPD undercover taskforce that has focused on the subway issues you mentioned. Since the launch of this initiative we have taken four teams of juveniles doing repeated robberies off of the streets (note, also, that most of these robberies you’re referring to are robberies of iphones from pedestrians). We opened the first ever downtown precinct less than 200 feet from the corner of broad and market that also covers the university area. Crime in the area covered has dropped 18% in its first quarter of operations. This statistic reflects a timeframe that precedes new investments in the precinct which include a plain clothed unit which will do even more to confront any remaining drug dealing.

Your police response time comment also needs context. We have a 90 second ceiling for calls received to dispatch of a police unit for any “priority seven” crime (a violent – broadly defined – crime in progress). There are instances where cell phone calls go to the state police or a neighboring municipal dispatch center, and then must be transferred which causes a delay. We simply can’t control that and it’s an issue around the country. That said, once a unit receives that sub 90 second dispatch, it depends where in the precinct they are, but it typically takes less than five minutes for them to arrive on scene. This is all part of a highly sophisticated and computerized prioritization process that assures that units don’t respond to calls in the order they’re received, but rather respond based upon need. We monitor these times weekly and quickly identify any failures to meet standards. Taking a report for a crime that has already happened is important, but we, like most cities in this country that are facing diminished police resources, have to send our police where they’re needed most, when they’re needed most. Is it highly inconvenient and frustrating for someone waiting for a police car to report a theft? Understandably so. Does it happen much less often than you imply? yes. Also note that we’ve even gone so far as to create phone and web reporting systems to unclog our dispatch queue of calls for which an officer response might not be needed (noise complaint, etc.). This has and will continue to drive down response times for non-priority calls and offers a alternative reporting method for people who don’t want to wait for officers to respond to non-emergencies.

Finally, in the next month or so I hope to schedule community meetings with students at Rutgers and possibly at NJIT too before the semester ends. I'd love to not only discuss safety issues but also many of the issues going on in Newark. Our city is going through a dynamic period of change and improvement and the student population is critical to our progress. To find out about those meetings follow me on twitter, facebook and/or waywire.

corybooker699 karma

"Please Lord get me and my neighbor out of here alive" . . . . other brilliant things that probably flashed through my big bald head: "Fire - hot"; "can't believe I'm so out of shape climbing a flight of stairs"; And "I wish I was faster."

corybooker677 karma

We have a serious marijuana problem in this country. It is not so much the direct effects of the drug, but more how we are responding to the drug's presence. To be clear: non-medicinal use of the drug is unhealthy for those who use it, and for society. While, for example, what we as americans eat, the alcohol we consume, and the legal, if regulated, polluting of our water and air have similarly dangerous (or more dangerous) effects, the legal status of these behaviors does not negate the adverse effects of marijuana use, even if they do speak to arguments in favor of consistent treatment under the law. This said, the vast majority of the damage done by marijuana comes from how we as a society have responded to its use and trade. We spend billions of dollars a year with little effect, and with the further price tag of delegitimization of our laws and law enforcement, and making criminals of so many otherwise law abiding americans. Everyday I see the ravages of addiction, violence, incarceration and tax payer dollars expended around the use of this drug.

I’m still developing more larger policy ideas on this issue. It is not enough to criticize - all of us who want to complain about what is must offer constructive ideas and thoughts about what can be.

But now here are some very specific thoughts and ideas:

  1. Medical Marijuana. It should be available and legal. The drug stores/pharmacies in Newark sell prescription drugs far more powerful, potentially dangerous, and addictive. Why is marijuana singled out and denied to sick people?

  2. I believe too many of my young people are being unfairly punished and chewed up by the criminal justice system over small amounts of marijuana. Their lives are being severely and adversely affected by the sheer number of arrests and incarcerations we are making. When a young person enters a system, it often leaves them worse off than other lower cost interventions would. So my team here in Newark is trying to pilot alternatives using philanthropy and any other funds we can scrape together. These programs will help prevent kids from getting swallowed by the system AND help them when they are released if preventative measures fail. Not to mention, programs such as these save taxpayer dollars... they are so much cheaper than our current rush to incarcerate. So from New Jersey's first youth court to the Newark YEES center, we are creating programs to help make real change. But these programs are too small and limited. We need policy makers at higher levels to reexamine how we treat non-violent drug offenders and yes, I believe it is time New Jersey considers, debates and examines decriminalization.

Finally, 3. I wish pot users out there would realize that they aren't just lighting up. They are not participating in civil disobedience simply by smoking. There are ways to protest and advocate for change, but until that change happens, their use of marijuana is likely perpetuating the violence here in Newark, in communities across our country and in other nations. This is not the way to make change. Breaking current drug laws just participates in the pain, anguish and challenges in places like Newark. This may seem to be hyperbole, but make no mistake about it: the drug trade and its violence is not about the TYPE of drug bought and sold -- it's about the money behind those drugs. Drug-related violence in Newark is just as easily caused by 100 dollars of weed as it is 100 dollars of heroin. The point is that it is part of a violent black market.

Until change happens, my team and I will continue to work to find practical solutions to this ongoing problem.

corybooker546 karma

As for the vegetarian thing. . . I became a vegi almost exactly 20 years ago. I was a competitive athlete back then and wanted to see what could take my body to the next level, also I was reading everything I could about food, where it came from, what impact it had both on me and my world. So in 1992, I decided to experiment, to try it for 3 to 6 months. And WOW! when I did my athletic performance took off, I felt so much better and it comported with other values and ideas I was exploring at the time, so I decided that this is what is best for me. It was a very personal decision. I tried to be vegan for a while too. But that didn't last long. There is something about those two guys I love so much, that I lean on, that I so badly just want to hug: Ben & Jerry - I couldn't leave them. . . I think those guys need me too much. Ben . . . Jerry, I'm here for you. . . Call me. . .

corybooker498 karma

it's not just follicle favoritism -- it's hair hate

corybooker402 karma

Thank you for your comments about me on Rachel Maddow. Truly I think it is glaringly unjust in our nation - a great country where the belief in freedom and equality under the law is held as a sacrosanct ideal - that we treat citizens differently just because of who they choose to love. As long as this injustice stands - that we do not have marriage equality under the law - I will speak out against it and work to change it. Right now in America there are tax laws, social security laws, immigration laws, and hundreds and hundreds of more laws that affect straight Americans differently than gay Americans around the marriage issue. This to me is indefensible. This is unjust. This is unAmerican. Here's a video with some more of my thoughts on this issue.

Finally about Chris Christie. I could write a dissertation on our disagreements. Here for example is a HUGE one. He should have signed mariage equality into law. But I don't think my voters elected me to stand around and disagree with the governor but to find ways to deliver for them and that necessitates he and I working together. So on issues I agree with the governor, we have made progress and on issues I disagree with him, I advocate against and will continue to speak out on: (like many environmental issues - for example he pulled out of the Regional Green House Gas Initiative).

But let me say this. Just because he and I disagree about everything from abortion rights to the best baseball team in our area (Christie: Mets, Me: Yankees) doesn't mean there aren't many areas we agree. In those areas he has been a strong partner and by focusing on where we agree, he and I have developed a friendship. The governor and I have managed to develop a very strong working relationship, he and I have found ways to build not destroy, to partner not pummel, to move forward not tug left or right. Right now Newark urgently needs progress and little can be accomplished without some type of state partnership - you almost can't even put a shovel in the ground without a state permit. So where the governor and I can work together we will work together.