Fighting For Justice: Legislative Steps We’re Taking to Change The System

We are a country in crisis — we have been for quite some time. For Ahmaud, Breonna, George, their families, and our communities all too familiar with their pain — we must demand justice.

I wanted to share with you the legislative action I am working on as we fight to dismantle systems of hate, hold law enforcement officers accountable, and push for the adoption — and use — of unbiased policing practices.

At this moment in time we are witnessing a moral reckoning in our community and across the country, a response to the injustice and inaction that black and brown Americans have experienced for centuries. Enough is enough.

Changing the system will take all of us — here’s what we are working on.

Legislation Introduced & Co-Sponsored

Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (Rep. Bass, Senators Booker and Harris, and Rep. Nadler) The first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement and build trust between law enforcement and our communities. Read more here: https://cbc.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=2195

Resolution Condemning Attacks on the Free Press (Rep. Scanlon and Schiff) to protect journalists and reaffirm the centrality of press freedom in light of violations committed during recent protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Read more here: https://scanlon.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=174

Justice for Juveniles Act (Rep. Scanlon, Rep. Armstrong, Rep. Jeffries, Rep. Katko, Rep. Reschenthaler) which protects young people from abuse in prisons by exempting them from the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Read more here: https://scanlon.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=83

Fair Access to Legal Counsel Act (Rep. Scanlon, Rep. Sarbanes, Rep. Nadler, Rep. Kennedy) will help more Americans secure representation in civil court. Read more about our bill here: https://medium.com/@repmgs/scanlon-sarbanes-nadler-kennedy-introduce-bill-to-improve-civil-justice-system-d955bd4a5d91

H.Res.988 — Condemning all acts of police brutality, racial profiling, and the use of excessive and militarized force throughout the country (Rep. Pressley and Rep. Omar). Read more about this resolution here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/05/29/george-floyd-omar-pressley-resolution-condemns-police-brutality/5284954002/

H.Res.960 — Recognizing the right to counsel in civil proceedings (Rep. Kennedy). Read more here: https://kennedy.house.gov/newsroom/press-releases/kennedy-introduces-civil-gideon

Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act of 2020 (Rep. Jackson Lee) calls for new national policing standards and accreditations. Read more about the bill here: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/house-democrats-introduce-policing-reform-bill-named-george/story?id=71069101

H.R. 4408 — Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2019 bans the use of the chokehold (Rep. Jefferies). Read more about this bill here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/4408/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22hr4408%22%5D%7D&r=1&s=1

H.R.40 — Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act (Rep. Jackson Lee). Read more about this legislation here: https://www.aclu.org/news/racial-justice/h-r-40-is-not-a-symbolic-act-its-a-path-to-restorative-justice/

HR 125 — Police Training and Independent Review Act of 2019 (Rep. Cohen) authorizes the Department of Justice to award grants to states that do the following: (1) require law enforcement officers to be trained on diversity and sensitivity, and (2) require an independent prosecutor to be appointed to investigate and prosecute an alleged offense involving the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer that results in a death or injury.

HR 1714 — Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (Rep. Johnson) directs the Secretary of Defense to make certain limitations on the transfer of personal property to Federal and State agencies, and for other purposes.

Police Receiving Overly Traumatizing Equipment Changes Today (PROTECT) Act (Rep. Haaland)

H.R. 5602 — Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (Rep. Schneider) authorizes dedicated domestic terrorism offices within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to analyze and monitor domestic terrorist activity and require the Federal Government to take steps to prevent domestic terrorism.

H.R. 4118 — Hate Crime Commission Act of 2019 (Rep. Krishnamoorti) establishes the United States Commission on Hate Crimes.

H.R. 2698 — Law Enforcement Training for Mental Health Crisis Response (Rep. Horn) directs the Office of Justice Programs within the Department of Justice to award grants to law enforcement agencies for behavioral health crisis response training.

Holding Agencies Accountable

House Judiciary oversight hearing on police brutality to examine the crisis of racial profiling, police brutality and lost trust between police departments and the communities they serve.

Watch my remarks here: https://www.facebook.com/RepMGS/videos/921552164925520/

Watch the full hearing here: https://youtu.be/rxaShkaGrLY

House Judiciary letter to DOJ demanding investigation into deaths of Mr. Arbery, Ms. Taylor, and Mr. Floyd. Read the letter to the DOJ here: https://judiciary.house.gov/uploadedfiles/2020-05-28_letter_to_ag_barr_and_aag_drieband_in_response_to_recent_murders_of_ahmaud_arbery_breonna_taylor_george_floyd.pdf?utm_campaign=2826-519

Letter to Customs and Border Patrol & Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Rep. Scanlon, Rep. Vargas, and Sen. Harris) demanding answers on the agencies’ involvement with the ongoing protests against police brutality in light of reports of law enforcement using force at protests and demonstrations. Read more here: https://medium.com/@repmgs/harris-scanlon-vargas-demand-answers-on-ice-cbp-involvement-in-policing-ongoing-protests-5a4fedd7cf73

Letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding law enforcement officers, including personnel from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), to act against protesters in Washington, D.C. without carrying identifying name plates, official insignia, or agency markings of any kind on their “uniforms.”

Letter to DOJ calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the AG’s authorization of the attack on protestors on Monday night (6/1) (Led by Rep. Cicilline). Read our letter here: https://cicilline.house.gov/press-release/cicilline-calls-appointment-special-prosecutor-investigate-barr%E2%80%99s-role-forcibly

This work is ongoing and we will continue to update this list as we introduce more legislation.

Mary Gay Scanlon currently serves a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District.