Police Accountability and Criminal Justice Reform

Congresswoman Maloney believes that transformative and progressive policies in police reform and criminal justice are integral to our nation as we move towards a more perfect union.

Throughout her career as an elected official, both in Congress and on New York’s City Council, she has fought for and supported critical pieces of legislation that would address antiquated criminal justice and policing laws. With people all across the country protesting and marching to condemn police violence, demand justice, and declare unequivocally that Black Lives Matter, Congress must do more than decry police brutality, racial profiling, and the excessive use of force – it must act.  

 

 

Work as Chair of the Oversight Committee

As Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Congresswoman Maloney is working to hold the Trump Administration accountable for its actions. This includes investigations into the deployment of federal troops and law enforcement officers in cities including Washington, DC and Portland, OR and the use of facial recognition and cell phone data to track protestors.

 

Selected Current Legislative Efforts

The Congresswoman is supporting transformative legislation on the state and federal level to increase police accountability and enact needed changes to our criminal justice system. This includes, but is not limited to, key pieces of legislation listed below.

George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020

The bill, led by Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, and Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, is a comprehensive legislative package that includes provisions from other stand-alone bill that I am also cosponsoring. This bill contains reforms pertaining to qualified immunity, transparency mandates, no knock warrant restrictions, and police training, among other changes. The bill was passed by the House on June 25, 2020 by a bipartisan vote of 236-181. You can read a full summary of the bill here.

 

H.R.7143 - To repeal the military surplus program under title 10, United States Code 

This bill, sponsored by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez would eliminate the program that allows for the transfer of military-grade weapons and equipment to local and state police forces. This “1033” program was created in the early 1990s, and has since sent rifles, armored personnel carriers, and other instruments of war to our communities, militarizing police forces across the nation. There is no justification for using instruments of war on our own citizens.

 

H.R.4408 - Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2019

Introduced by Democratic Caucus Chair Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, H.R. 4408 will bar the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers and amend/clarify current existing law to make the practice a criminal offense. 

 

H.R. 1636 - The Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act of 2019

This proposal from Congresswoman Frederica Wilson would create a bipartisan commission to study societal issues and other challenges that specifically affect Black males and recommend solutions. It’s senate companion, S. 2163, was passed by both the House and Senate in July 2020.

 

H.R. 4359 – Support Police Accountability by Raising Standard for Use of Excessive Force (PEACE) Act

The PEACE Act, introduced by Congressmen Lacy Clay and Ro Khanna, would mandate that law enforcement’s use of force be a last resort. This proposal requires officers to first exhaust de-escalation techniques and restricts the use of deadly force unless needed to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury to the officer or others.

  

Caucus on Black Women and Girls Resolution Memorializing Black Women Victims of Police Brutality

Too often, Black women victims of police brutality are overlooked. In addition to recognizing this wrong, this resolution states that any legislation passed by the House to remedy racial inequality in our country, especially in the criminal justice system, must also address concerns for Black women. The resolution also calls for the creation of a commission to study the status of black women and girls, including the social and systemic barriers they uniquely face and the remedies and reforms that we must enact to create more fair and equal treatment. You can read the full resolution here.
 

H.R. 1684: Journalist Protection Act

We’ve all seen the assaults and attacks on journalists around the country (and world) under the Trump Administration, most recently during peaceful protests. This bill, authored by Congressman Eric Swalwell, would make the assault of a journalist a federal crime.

 

Stop Using Military Force Against Civilians Act

Sponsored by Congressman David Cicilline, this bill would limit Presidential authority to deploy the Armed Forces to states so that our troops are not used as a vehicle to harm civilians or end lawful protests.

 

Limitations on the Insurrection Act Including Mechanisms for Invoking its Termination (LIMIT) Act

During the recent peaceful protests against police brutality and systemic racism, President Trump made the troubling suggestion that he would invoke the Insurrection Act, a move that would activate the military against U.S. citizens.

This bill, introduced by Congressman Anthony Brown, would prevent a President’s abuse of the Insurrection Act.

 

Andrew Kearse Accountability for Denial of Medical Care Act

Led by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, this bill would hold federal law enforcement agencies accountable for the failure to provide medical care to those in their custody who need it. The bill also mandates training for officers to effectively respond to medical distress and directs the inspectors general of each agency that employs federal officers to refer violations of the law to the DOJ for prosecution.

 

H.R. 7191, Workforce Justice Act

In 2019, Congresswoman Maloney able to follow through on former Chairman Elijah Cummings’s Fair Chance Act by getting it signed into law by including it in the NDAA. This law “bans the box” for federal agencies and contractors. The Workforce Justice Act, led by Congressman Trone, builds on this progress by requiring states to ban private employers from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to the extension of a conditional offer of employment. If states do not institute this new policy within 3 years, they would become ineligible for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG).

  

H.R. 4339, End Racial Profiling Act of 2019

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s proposal would create a ban on racial profiling, enforceable by declaratory or injunctive relief. The bill also mandates training on racial profiling issues be part of all Federal law enforcement training and the collection of data on all routine or spontaneous investigatory activities that is to be submitted through a standardized form to the Department of Justice. Additionally, the bill authorizes the DOJ to provide grants for the development and implementation of best policing practices, such as early warning systems, technology integration, and other management protocols that discourage profiling. It also increases transparency and accountable by requiring the Attorney General to provide periodic reports assessing any ongoing discriminatory profiling practices.

 

Right to Protect Real Objectors Taking Exception to Systemic Transgressions (PROTEST) Act

This bill, introduced by Congresswoman Alma Adams, will protect Americans who are exercising their right to protest from overly hostile conduct from law enforcement. It criminalizes the use of riot control agents, including tear gas, without a clear, audible warning given beforehand and a reasonable amount of time to disperse. Troops are banned from deploying tear gas and chemical agents against enemies in war, and yet we are still using it here at home - that is unacceptable and must end. 

  

Protect our Protestors Act

This legislation, led by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, would criminalize police violence against those exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest. As we have seen during the protests in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmed Arbery police have used overly aggressive and violent tactics to disperse those protesting these very tactics. This bill will ensure that any officer who kills or causes bodily harm to those peacefully protesting are held responsible and charged with federal crimes.

 

H.R. 2835; Deterring Undue Enforcement by Protecting Rights From Excessive Searches and Seizures Act of 2019

This bipartisan bill, led by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, seeks to combat the excessive seizure of personal property by the police, which disproportionately is carried out against people of color during the implementing of policies like Stop and Frisk. This bill would limit federal law enforcement’s ability to monetize these stops by preventing the seizure of personal property and therefore disincentivize officers from making these stops in the first place. 

 

Letter: Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding concerns around white supremacist involvement in law enforcement

Led by Congressman Norma Torres, this letter to the DOJ and FBI requests that they open an investigation into the involvement of white supremacists in law enforcement and calls for the release of the full contents of the 2006 assessment entitled, “White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement” to the public, for an updated assessment on white supremacist infiltration in law enforcement, and a report on the actions DOJ and the FBI have taken to address concerns regarding white supremacist presence in law enforcement. You can read the full letter here.

 

Highlighted Legislative History:

  • In 1999, Congresswoman Maloney was a cosponsor of the Traffic Stops Statistics Study Act of 2000. This legislation would require law enforcement officers to report data on race and ethnicity during traffic stops to the U.S. Attorney General. The Attorney General would report to Congress in order to study and address any the systematic problem of racial profiling by police officers.

 

  • She has supported legislation that would required prisons to provide mandatory sexual harassment and abuse awareness training to officers and staff, including Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s H.R. 3158 of the 106th Congress. This bill would have restricted states from receiving federal funds if its prisons failed to implement safeguards.

 

  • Congresswoman Maloney was an original cosponsor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2001 which was signed into law by President Obama as The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. The legislation expanded the definition of a federal hate crime and provides funding and technical assistance to state, local, and tribal jurisdictions to help them to more effectively investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

 

  • In 2004, she was an original cosponsor of the End Racial Profiling Act of 2004, legislation that would prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement from targeting a person based on actual or perceived race and ethnicity without trustworthy information that is relevant to linking a person to a crime. The bill also required law enforcement to maintain robust policies and procedures to eliminate racial profiling including training to enact proper responses to allegations of profiling.

 

  • She was an original cosponsor of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007, legislation introduced by the late Rep. John Lewis that allowed cold cases of violent crime committed against African-Americans before 1970 to be reopened by federal investigators. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008.

 

  • Congresswoman Maloney supported the Youth PROMISE Act, whose provisions were eventually passed into law under the Juvenile Justice Reform Act (JJRA) of 2018.

 

  • She also cosponsored the Justice is Not For Sale Act of 2017 that would restrict the federal government and state and local jurisdictions from contracting with private prisons and detention centers

 

Local Efforts

Congresswoman Maloney is supporting various local proposals to address these issues at home.

NYS: End Police Secrecy - Repeal 50-a (A2513-O’Donnell/S3695-Bailey)

These measures from Assemblymember Daniel J. O’Donnell and State Senator Jamaal T. Bailey would repeal 50-a, a statute that has been abused to decrease transparency and hide police misconduct. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Police must be accountable to the communities they serve.  

 

Repeal Walking While Trans Ban (A00654-Paulin /S02253-Hoylman)
These measures from Assemblymember Paulin and Senator Hoylman would repeal New York’s loitering for the purposes of prostitution law, or “walking while trans ban,” which essentially allows law enforcement to stop-and-frisk trans women of color. The law is unevenly and discriminatorily applied, and its repeal is necessary to protect against harmful arrests.

 

Investigating New York Police Department Misconduct

Congresswoman Maloney is supporting New York State Attorney General Leticia James’s investigation of NYPD’s misconduct against peaceful protesters. She vehemently opposes NYPD’s use of violence, and was appalled to see the very protestors speaking out against police violence, fall victim to it.

 

 

More on Police Accountability and Criminal Justice Reform

Oct 6, 2020 In The News

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) bought access to "global" location data harvested from ordinary apps installed on peoples' phones, meaning it could track devices even outside of U.S. borders, according to a document obtained by Motherboard.

The news provides more insight on what sort of broad data U.S. government agencies are purchasing, and highlights the scale at which location firms are gathering information on largely unsuspecting smartphone users to then sell to clients.

Sep 29, 2020 In The News

WASHINGTON — A hearing aimed at rooting white supremacists out of policing earned a sharp rebuke from New York’s police union Tuesday after a conservative lawmaker suggested Democrats and Republicans could unite to take on union rules that make it hard to fire racist cops.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) rejected the Democrats' position that policing is beset by systemic racism, saying the abuses seen lately are more a case of “a few bad apples” needing to be culled from otherwise healthy police forces.

Jul 31, 2020 Newsletter

Dear Friend, 

 

Jul 28, 2020 Press Release

Washington, DC — Yesterday, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) voted to pass S. 2163, the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act, which will establish a 19-member commission examining the social disparities that disproportionately affect Black males in America. Commission members will review homicide rates, arrest and incarceration rates, poverty, violence, fatherhood, mentorship, drug abuse, death rates, disparate income and wealth levels, school performance in various grade levels and health issues.

Jul 24, 2020 In The News

The military tactics utilized by Homeland Security officers to control protesters in Portland, Oregon, and other cities are being decried by congressional lawmakers and investigated by federal watchdogs.

But some legal experts who have long tracked how the department fulfills its immigration policies say the tactics shouldn’t come as a surprise. They also said some of the moves may be perfectly legal.

Jul 21, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) released the following statement about her vote against final passage of H.R. 6395, the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.

Jul 19, 2020 In The News

Democratic congressional leaders called Sunday for investigations into the use of federal agents to crack down on peaceful protesters in Portland, Ore., and elsewhere.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) demanded probes into the deployment and tactics of the agents, some of whom are wearing masks and dressed in unmarked uniforms when they arrest suspected protesters.

Jul 19, 2020 In The News

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Top leaders in the U.S. House said Sunday they were “alarmed” by the Trump administration’s tactics against protesters in Portland, Oregon, and other cities, including Washington, D.C., and called on federal inspectors general investigate.

Jun 26, 2020 Press Release

Washington, D.C. (June 25, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, spoke on the House floor in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020.

 

On June 8, 2020, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA), Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced this bill.