Cornyn, Senate Colleagues Introduce Police Reform Bill, the JUSTICE Act


In: All News   Posted 06/17/2020
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), James Lankford (R-OK) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) to announce the introduction of the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act. The legislation provides long-term solutions focused on police reform, accountability, and transparency, while also promoting efforts to find solutions to systemic issues affecting people of color such as education and health disparities.

“When I spoke with George Floyd’s family last week, they asked me for one thing: justice. That is what we set out to do with this legislation,” said Sen. Cornyn. “The JUSTICE Act is a package of significant reforms that already have bipartisan support, so there’s no excuse for Democrats to reject them out of hand. Although many of the changes to reform policing in our communities will happen at the local level, we can help stem racial inequality and ensure America’s police are more responsibly serving our communities.”

The full text of the JUSTICE Act is here, and a section by section analysis is here. A summary is below.

Law Enforcement Reform

  • The JUSTICE Act strengthens the training methods and tactics throughout law enforcement jurisdictions, especially regarding de-escalation of force and the duty to intervene, providing law enforcement with new funding to do so, and will also end the practice of utilizing chokeholds
     
  • Additionally, the bill will reform hiring practices by providing more resources to ensure the makeup of police departments more closely matches the communities they serve
     
  • The JUSTICE Act also ensures when a candidate is interviewed, the department looking to hire will have access to their prior disciplinary records
    -Too often, after a tragic incident, we have learned the offending officer had a disciplinary past in another jurisdiction of which their current employer was unaware

Accountability

  • Studies show that when body cameras are properly used violent encounters decrease significantly
     
  • The JUSTICE Act will put more body cameras on the streets, and ensure that departments are both using the cameras and storing their data properly
     
  • JUSTICE also requires a report establishing best practices for the hiring, firing, suspension, and discipline of law enforcement officers

Transparency

  • Currently, only about 40 percent of police officers from jurisdictions nationwide report to the FBI after an incident where an officer has discharged his or her weapon or used force
     
  • The bill will require full reporting in these two areas
     
  • There is also very little data as to when, where and why no knock warrants are used, and the JUSTICE Act will require reporting in this area as well

Additional Steps

  • The JUSTICE Act will finally make lynching a federal crime
     
  • It also creates two commissions to study and offer solutions to a broader range of challenges facing black men and boys, and the criminal justice system as a whole