Noah asked O’Rourke about the less obvious, but still important solutions needed to lower prison rates, and O’Rourke noted that change needs to begin at the school level in order to cut off the school-to-prison pipeline. In his home state of Texas, O’Roruke said, that pipeline can manifest as early as kindergarten, where children of color are five times as likely to be disciplined, suspended or expelled.
“So, making sure we don’t just have equality in terms of funding for our schools, but equity in our schools — the teachers should look like the students in front of them — we’re going to have much better outcomes if we do that,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke also called for getting rid of for-profit prisons and cash bail on top of ending the War on Drugs, legalizing marijuana and expunging the records of those who served time so they have a better chance of re-entering the workforce or going back to school.
He also noted the importance of making sure that those who went to prison for selling marijuana, most of whom are people of color, are “first in line to have licenses to legally sell marijuana once it’s become legal in this country — transformative justice.”