Circumventing our constitution in the name of fighting terrorism is a greater threat to our democracy than terrorism itself. Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and due process of the law. I oppose provisions of the USA Patriot Act that infringe upon civil liberties, such as allowing the government to perform search and seizure without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
I fundamentally oppose the death penalty as a matter of principle. As a practical measure, capital punishment has been shown to be ineffective at deterring crime and costs taxpayers more money than life sentences. It is applied in a discriminatory manner: studies indicate that defendants are four or five times more likely to be sentenced to death if the victim is white than if the victim is African American. Furthermore, the possibility of executing one innocent person should be enough to make anyone question the policy. Though New York state law currently does not allow capital punishment, it is still in force on the federal level.
Although the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, there should be restrictions in place. Nobody should be able to buy a gun at a gun show without a background check. However, gun control only goes so far. The most effective way to keep guns off the streets is by providing better education and opportunities to our children.
I believe in treatment rather than prison for first-time non-violent drug offenders. I support measures such as the Matthew Shepard Act, which expands federal hate crime laws to include attacks motivated by a victim’s gender, sexual orientation, or disability.