04.29.15

Michigan Chronicle: After Inkster, Peters pushes justice reform

U.S. Senator Gary Peters has unveiled what he calls a bipartisan legislation to push for criminal justice reform in the nation. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas are cosponsoring the bill.

Peters’ proposal, a National Criminal Justice Commission, comes on the heels of numerous public outcries calling for an end to overbearing law enforcement in communities of color and most recently in Inkster, where a former Inkster police officer, William Melendez, is accused of brutally maltreating Detroiter Floyd Dent during a traffic stop in January.

The incident captured on tape drew nationwide outrage and added to the growing list of other widely publicized incidents around the country where police are seen using excessive force in their dealings with citizens.

A National Criminal Justice Commission, the first of its kind in 50 years according to Peters, “will ensure that we are administering justice in an equitable way and making sure that it is working for taxpayers.”

During the phone call with journalists, Peters said the proposed commission, which already has the backing of the national NAACP, the Fraternal Order of Police, National District Attorneys Association and other law enforcement groups around the country, will have an 18-month comprehensive review of the criminal justice system.

“It is long overdue. The goal is pretty straightforward. We need to promote fairness in our laws,” Peters said. “The commisison will look at criminal justice issues in light of what is happening to make sure equal rights of citizens are respected.”

In the area of the administration of justice, Peters said, “the system must work for everyone,” adding that the commission will also take a look at the grand jury system and the state of prisons.


By:  Bankole Thompson