Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez urged politicians to stop building more prisons to address violent crime and instead provide more hospital and counseling services to lawbreakers who are mentally ill.
Her comments drew immediate condemnation from her pro-law-and-order critics.
“If we want to reduce violent crime, if we want to reduce the number of people in our jails, the answer is to stop building more of them,’” Ocasio-Cortez said during a Bronx event Thursday.
“The answer is to make sure that we actually build more hospitals, we pay organizers, we get people mental health care and overall health care, employment, etc. It’s to support communities, not throw them away.”
The New York Rep. slammed jails as “garbage bins” for people who are actually suffering from mental health issues.
“When you actually open a door to a jail and look at who is inside an enormous amount of people are dealing with untreated mental health issues,” she said.
“It is not acceptable for us to use jails as garbage bins for human beings. We need to treat people and so it is not a place for us to throw people for whom we do not want to invest in the actual holistic issues of their lives.”
AOC’s comments come amid a spike in violent crime in the city. Shooting incidents were up 86 percent in May compared to a year, according to the NYPD.
Hate crimes have also skyrocketed.
Law and order critics pounced.
“If AOC had her way . . . there’d be no jails, no arrests, no police (except her private security). New York City would be turned into a 24/7 movie set for ‘The Purge,’” Staten Island Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis said in a tweet.
“It’s ludicrous to say this at a time when almost every category of major crime is up in our city and criminals are back onto our streets immediately after being arrested to strike again. She has no regard for public safety, no respect for law enforcement and is a hypocrite because she walks around with private security.”
But AOC said an “extraordinarily high number of people who are responsible for hate crimes are suffering from severe mental health issues.”
She claims the “gutting” of support for mental health services is linked to homelessness and violent crime.
AOC, a Democratic Socialist and emerging leader of the Democratic Party’s left wing, made the comments during press conference at Jacobi hospital in The Bronx Thursday alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Westchester).
They discussed a program about preventing and reducing crime through a community outreach program, Stand Up To Violence.
Schumer, through a spokesman, declined comment on AOC’s anti-jail remarks.