U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke seizes on Texas power grid in bid against Abbott McConaughey on Texas run: 'I will let you know shortly' O'Rourke raises M in first 24 hours of Texas governor campaign MORE (D-Texas) on Monday urged Texas to lead the way in implementing a series of proposals to reform the criminal justice system.
In an op-ed for the Houston Chronicle, O’Rourke suggested eliminating private prisons, ending the “war on drugs,” halting mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses, stopping the use of bail bonds and improving the re-entry system to assist those transitioning out of prison.
"Giving low-level offenders a second chance no matter the color of their skin or the economic status they hold can create opportunity for all of us," O'Rourke wrote.
"It will help build a future that is more just, more fair, and more prosperous for every single person in this state and this country," he continued. "It is time for Texas to lead the way."
O'Rourke, who is running to unseat Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight On The Money — Congress races to keep the lights on House sets up Senate shutdown showdown MORE (R-Texas), acknowledged that he was arrested in 1995 for jumping a fence at the University of Texas at El Paso, and again in 1998 for driving while intoxicated.
The congressman wrote that those incidents did not preclude him from pursuing his goals, but that the same opportunity is "denied to too many of our fellow Texans, particularly those who don’t look like me or have access to the same opportunities that I did."
O'Rourke's call to action on criminal justice reform comes days after President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE threw cold water on a criminal justice reform package being crafted in the Senate.
Trump said during a closed-door White House meeting that he has problems with the prison and sentencing overhaul package and indicated he would rather revisit the issue after November's midterm elections.
O'Rourke trailed Cruz by 4 percentage points among registered voters in an NBC News/Marist poll released last week.
Cruz has 49 percent support among registered voters in the survey, with 45 percent backing O’Rourke. About 6 percent of voters remain undecided.
The reliably red Texas has not had a Democratic senator since 1993.