Criminal justice forum clouded by president’s visit as candidates outline policy proposals


COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- Eyes are still on Benedict College this weekend. The college hosted a forum put on by the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center that tapped President Donald Trump as the key speaker. The president’s appearance brought out dozens of supporters and protesters.

Saturday, several Democratic presidential candidates visited the campus to continue the criminal justice reform discussions.

The candidates outlined their criminal justice reform policies in day 2 of the “Second Step Presidential Justice Forum.” But despite the forum’s topic, President Donald Trump’s Friday visit overshadowed the event.

Congressman John Delaney started Saturday’s forum outlining his next steps in criminal justice reform.

“Unfortunately, low-income folks they don’t get the legal representation not that public defenders aren’t good. It’s just that they’re overworked and there are too few of them,” said Congressman Delaney explaining his keypoints.

Then Senator Corey Booker took the stage. “We’re only 4-5% of the global population, but 1 of every 3 incarcerated women on the planet are incarcerated right here in the country. That is a very big distinction from the land of the free.”

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg addressed the crowd next. Senator Kamala Harris followed Buttigieg on the schedule, but behind these scenes changes were being made.

The California lawmaker pulled out of the event after the sponsors of the forum gave President Donald Trump a bipartisan justice award.

It was not until the sponsors of the forum were removed that Harris agreed to take the stage.

“On this issue of criminal justice reform that coupled with the program that the sponsors were o an HBCU and excluded the students from access because it was a paid event. As a proud graduate of an HBCU, yes I said I would not particpate.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Vice President Joe Biden rounded out the day.

Saturday’s discussion was centered around criminal justice reform, but President Donald Trump was still a focal point.

“He has shown whether it’s using nasty language about witch hunts and lynching, I mean come on,” added Senator Corey Booker. The discussion will continue Sunday. Senator Elizabeth Warren will be the first to take the stage.

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