Van Hollen Joins Booker, Harris in Introducing Justice in Policing Act
Legislation Includes Sweeping Reforms to Address Accountability and Systemic Racism in Policing
Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Representative Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, in addition to members of Senate, House, and Congressional Black Caucus leadership in introducing the Justice in Policing Act. This legislation aims to end police brutality, hold police accountable, improve transparency in policing and create meaningful, structural change that safeguards every American’s right to safety and equal justice.
“The lack of police accountability and deep, systemic racism in our country has led to the murder of George Floyd and of countless Black men and women across America. This legislation is long overdue – justice delayed is justice denied. We must bring the calls for action from outside the Senate walls onto the Senate floor. I’m proud to join Senators Booker and Harris, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Democratic leadership in introducing this legislation to hold police accountable, ban abusive practices, ensure transparency and reporting of misconduct, and end virtual immunity from lawsuits. I urge Senate Republican leadership to bring up this bill immediately.
“This is a crucial first step – but our fight does not stop here. Our system must be centered in restorative justice. We have an obligation at every level of government to uproot and destroy embedded racist policies with the same kind of deliberate action that put them there in the first place. We must put all of our systems under the microscope and eliminate the deep inequities, including in education, health care, housing, and economic opportunity. And we need to overhaul our criminal justice system. I will continue working to address systemic racism in all its ugly forms so our nation can live up to its promise of equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunity for all,” said Senator Van Hollen.
Full text of the bill is available here.
Specifically, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would:
- Hold police accountable in our courts by:
- Amending the mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242, the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct, from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard;
- Reforming qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that as currently interpreted shields law enforcement officers from being held legally liable for violating an individual’s constitutional rights;
- Improving the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and incentivizing state attorneys general to conduct pattern and practice investigations;
- Incentivizing states to create independent investigative structures for police involved deaths through grants; and
- Creating best practices recommendations based on President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force.
- Improve transparency in policing by collecting better and more accurate data of police misconduct and use-of-force by:
- Creating a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problem-officers from changing jurisdictions to avoid accountability; and
- Mandating state and local law enforcement agencies report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
- Improve police training and practices by:
- Ending racial and religious profiling;
- Mandating training on racial bias and the duty to intervene;
- Banning no-knock warrants in drug cases;
- Banning chokeholds and carotid holds;
- Changing the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was reasonable to whether the force was necessary;
- Limiting the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement;
- Requiring federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras; and
- Requiring state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body camera.
- Make lynching a federal crime by:
- Making it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.
The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 has the support of a broad coalition of civil rights organizations including: Demand Progress, Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Action Network, National African American Clergy Network, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), Black Millennial Convention, and the National Urban League.
"The National African American Clergy Network supports the Justice in Policing Bill. It affirms sacred scripture that everyone is created in the image of God and deserves to be protected by police sworn to value and safeguard all lives. Failure by police to uphold this sacred trust with Black Americans lives, requires systemic changes in policing nationwide," said Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Dr. T. DeWitt Smith, Jr., Co-Conveners, The National African American Clergy Network (NAACN).
"It's time to close the chapter on a dark era of unchecked police violence in our country that has wreaked havoc on African American families across the country. The Justice in Policing Act is historic and long overdue legislation that will put our country on a path to reform. This Act is responsive to many of the urgent demands being pressed for by our communities and by the people protesting for racial justice and equity across our nation. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law commends the Congressional Black Caucus for their leadership on policing reform and this critical legislation, including Chair Karen Bass, Senator Cory Booker and Senator Kamala Harris," said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
"Sometimes difficult circumstances present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring about historic change," said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. "The brutal actions of police in George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, along with botched execution of a no-knock warrant that killed Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and the brazen vigilante execution of Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia, have pushed the nation to the tipping point."
"For the past four-plus centuries, Black people have continuously been made to endure unfair, unjust, and inhumane treatment in this country. We have been made to believe in that if we worked hard, never complained, and accepted what the world offered that would be enough. What the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others have taught us is that obedience will never be enough; liberty and justice for all applies to everyone but us; and by us, we mean Black Americans, African Americans, Afro-Americans, or plainly put, Black people," said Waikinya J.S.Clanton, MBA Black Millennial Convention.
Senate cosponsors include: Schumer, Feinstein, Baldwin, Bennet, Blumenthal, Brown, Cantwell, Cardin, Carper, Casey, Coons, Duckworth, Durbin, Gillibrand, Heinrich, Hirono, Kaine, Klobuchar, Leahy, Markey, Menendez, Merkley, Murphy, Murray, Sanders, Schatz, Smith, Stabenow, Udall, Warner, Warren, and Wyden.
House cosponsors include: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Alma Adams (D-NC), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Collin Allred (D-TX), Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Ami Bera (D-CA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Julia Brownley (D-CA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), J. Luis Correa (D-CA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Susan Davis (D-CA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Val B. Demings (D-FL), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), Sylvia R. García, (D-TX), Al Green (D-TX), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Denny Heck (D-WA), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Bill Keating (D-MA) Mike Kelly (D-PA), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Annie Kuster (D-NH), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI), Al Lawson (D-FL), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Richard E. Neal (D-MA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Scott Peters (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Stacey E. Plaskett (D-V.I.), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), David E. Price (D-NC), Jamie Raskin, (D-MD), Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Bradley Scott Schneider (D-IL), Bobby Scott (D-VA), David Scott (D-GA), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Donna Shalala (D-FL), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Adam Smith (D-WA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Norma Torres (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Trone (D-MD), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Peter Welch (D-VT), Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and John Yarmuth (D-KY).
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