Charlotte Clark-Frieson on the Issues

the politics of decency

My platform begins with one word: “Decency.” One of our greatest Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, said: “The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency.” This statement expresses the true mission of our governing bodies. . What is right and decent is also what is practical and humane.   I firmly believe in a renewed sense of decency to guide the state of Alabama, and I am driven to take whatever steps are necessary to see people in my community  — my children, neighbors, friends, church sisters and brothers - lead better, more decent lives. Other small business owners like me, running all kinds of “mom & pop” businesses, depend on these to provide a decent standard of living. But business only survives is when all citizens thrive. And for all of us to thrive we need to rebuild our trust in the decency of our government. I believe we can do this  right here in Alabama. But we will only achieve such trust by taking the job seriously and by holding ourselves accountable to all the citizens of our great state.

I Will:

  • Keep the element of “decency” at the forefront of  everything I do. If a decision violates the standard of decency I would expect for myself, then it’s not good enough for my constituents..
  • Make an appropriate, acceptable degree of “decency” an element of every decision I make and  every vote I cast.
  • Put every decision to the test.  Before it becomes law.

Quality, Affordable Health Care

It is both inhumane and indecent for our state to deprive its citizens of quality health care. Alabama must expand Medicare in order to guarantee its population the right to a decent life.  Our state must diligently seek and find the delicate balance between rising health care costs and a decent level of universally available care. . I believe that while this is a difficult goal, it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE,  as long as we commit ourselves, and our resources, to finding the solution.

I Will:

  • Support greater emphasis on preventative care
  • Support expanding Medicaid
  • Support measures to improve and expand existing healthcare programs

A Competitive Edge in Education

Alabama must raise the bar in education in order to prepare our students to enter the workforce. Education remains one of the most  critical aspects of our lives. Our children cannot look forward to a decent future without it. It is deeply disturbing to me that Alabama has 70 failing schools, most of which are attended by predominantly African American students .  We must support research to understand why these schools are underperforming and how we can turn them around. Without question, poor teacher morale is a major factor in school failure, and this is due , to inadequate teacher compensation.  Who can perform well in a job that leaves them financially stressed and undervalued by society??

I Will:

  • Support efforts to study and fix our poorly-performing schools and make it a priority to correct whatever conditions impede student progress.
  • Support increased teacher salaries, making them comparable to those of neighboring states.
  • Support dual enrollment and workforce trade programs in Alabama’s high schools.
  • Support any measures that ensure a first-class education for every student in Alabama.

A Living Wage

A living wage is defined as the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet his or her  basic needs. It is a pinnacle of decency. Many of Alabama’s workers are held hostage to jobs that pay criminally low wages,  amounting to nothing short of exploitation, a form of the chattel slavery that was supposedly abolished by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution…  All over Alabama, there are citizens who go to work everyday, year in -- year out; they labor throughout their lives, but, because they are in bondage to jobs that do not pay a decent LIVING wage, they cannot meet their basic needs.  They are good workers, who are consistent, reliable, have strong work ethics, and perform admirably and with pride in their jobs. Yet, because they are not paid a decent wage, they require assistance from food stamp programs, public housing, and any other subsidy programs available to them.  Alabama’s minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) is far too low for an economy as rich as ours. Something is broken when our workers are not seeing their fair share of economic growth, when full-time employees are forced to live in poverty and to rely on public support. It’s time to end consumer and taxpayer subsidies to businesses that employ minimum wage workers and to make the minimum wage a living wage.

I Will:

  • Support legislation that sets our minimum wage at an appropriate DECENT level based on the current cost of living in Alabama..
  • Diligently study the most effective ways the State Legislature can support Alabama workers and push to enact legislation to make it so.
  • Support policies that restore balance to both our economy AND our political system; that give workers a greater say in the workplace AND in our democracy.

Prison Reform as a Priority

The 8th Amendment to our United States Constitution is a legal promise to protect citizens from “Cruel and Unusual Punishment.”   Alabama’s Prisons, among the worst in the country, break that promise every day. They are fundamentally indecent. In 2015, the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery filed a Class Action Civil Suit on behalf of Alabama’s Prisoners, claiming they are  being denied mental health care. . Lawyers for the prisoners argue that the state provides little other than medication for those behind bars, and that sometimes inmates are forced to take it against their will. The plaintiffs allege prison conditions are dangerous and discriminatory, which amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of the Eighth Amendment.   Alabama prison conditions are inhumane, according to attorney Maria Morris of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
For instance, one severely mentally ill plaintiff was reportedly housed in a suicide-watch cell.  "He was spending 23 hours a day or more locked up in a cell, getting no counseling." "That's their highest level of care that they can give him."   The current lawsuit is on behalf of Alabama's male prison population. Two years ago, the state agreed to improve conditions in women's prisons after a federal investigation found nearly two decades of systematic abuses, including male officers forcing women to have sex.

Alabama's prisons are some of the most overcrowded, underfunded, and indecent in the country. At times, the lockups are at nearly double capacity, with staffing levels that are half what they should be, according to Alabama's Department of Corrections.  And the state has only 21 doctors for about 23,300 prisoners.

The root problem is that Alabama can't afford to provide adequate services for the number of prisoners it incarcerates. The state is locking up too many men and women without sufficient resources. Wee are better people than this.  And while this may not be a popular issue, it is a crucial one for Alabama.. We must strive to reduce prison populations and we must enact prison reforms that allow the incarcerated to live under decent conditions..

I Will:

  • Support legislation that provides the funding for the overhaul and/or reform of Alabama’s Correctional Institutions.
  • Support or Sponsor Legislation that facilitates Ex-Offenders complete return to society, including a fast track to the restoration of their voting rights.
  • Support alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders.