Peters, Graham, Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Bill Establishing a National Criminal Justice Commission
Commission Would Make Recommendations to Reduce Crime and Improve Criminal Justice System
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today introduced the bipartisan National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2015, legislation that would create a National Criminal Justice Commission to review the criminal justice system from top to bottom and propose reforms to address the most pressing issues facing the nation’s criminal justice system. Recent incidents, like the traffic stop of Floyd Dent in Inkster, MI, and civil unrest in areas like Baltimore, MD and Ferguson, MO have highlighted the need for a top-to-bottom evaluation of our criminal justice system. Peters introduced the legislation with Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and John Cornyn (TX).
“With a troubling rise in tensions between police and civilians in communities in Michigan and across the country, more than two million people in prison and unsustainable costs, it is clear that an overhaul of our criminal justice system is long overdue,” said Senator Peters. “The National Criminal Justice Commission will review policies, practices and costs to determine the best methods to protect public safety and promote fairness in our justice system. I’m proud to join Senators Graham and Cornyn in introducing this bipartisan bill that will help identify solutions to the serious issues facing our criminal justice system, build stronger relationships between law enforcement and our communities, and strengthen faith in our criminal justice system.”
“This is a long overdue measure,” said Senator Graham, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee. “The men and women representing law enforcement understand the need for this legislation, and I appreciate them pushing Congress to move forward on this important issue. I think the nation will be better off with this essential top-to-bottom review of the most pressing issues facing our nation’s criminal justice system.”
“It is becoming increasingly clear that we must find ways to reform our criminal justice system to make our communities safer and save taxpayers money,” said Senator Cornyn. “There are no easy answers, but I am proud to partner with Sens. Peters and Graham to ensure the federal government is exploring consensus-driven solutions using a model similar to the 9/11 Commission.”
The legislation would create a 14-member, bipartisan National Criminal Justice Commission made up of Presidential and Congressional appointees, including experts on law enforcement, criminal justice, victims’ rights, civil liberties and social services.
The Commission would be charged with completing an 18-month, comprehensive review of the national criminal justice system, including federal, state, local and tribal criminal justice systems, and issuing recommendations for changes in oversight, policies, practices and laws to reduce crime, increase public safety and promote confidence in the criminal justice system.
The last comprehensive review of the criminal justice system was conducted in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson created the Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. The 1965 Commission’s report offered 202 recommendations that have shaped the current criminal justice system, including the creation of the 9-1-1 system establishment of research organizations like the Bureau of Justice Statistics and improved training and professionalization for law enforcement.
The transparent and bipartisan National Criminal Justice Commission would also provide a better understanding of community relationships with law enforcement and the administration of justice through our court system, and identify effective policies to address a broad range of issues in the criminal justice system including crime reduction, incarceration and prisoner reentry.
The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2015 is supported by a broad coalition of criminal justice organizations, including law enforcement, crime victims and criminal justice reform advocates.
Endorsements for the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2015 include:
Fraternal Order of Police National President Chuck Canterbury said:
“The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended that Congress establish a national commission of law enforcement and other experts to review and examine all facets of our nation's criminal justice systems to improve our national justice system. The FOP agrees and we support legislation introduced by Senators Peters, Graham and Cornyn that would establish such a commission. The commission will undertake a comprehensive analysis of the administration of justice in our nation today and make recommendations which have the unanimous support of the commission. The goal here is to improve not only policing in the U.S., but our nation's criminal justice system as a whole.”
Hilary Shelton, Director, NAACP Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy said:
“There are serious challenges at every stage of our criminal justice system that undermine the basic tenets of justice, fairness and equality. Civil rights organizations and law enforcement groups for years have been calling for a thorough and exhaustive review of our entire criminal justice system, and too many events over the past year have made it abundantly clear that we need comprehensive criminal justice reform. I applaud Senators Peters, Graham and Cornyn for their bipartisan leadership on this effort and I look forward to working with them and all other seriously concerned individuals and groups to make these crucial changes that will help save lives, prevent crime and help law enforcement keep our communities safe.”
Association of Prosecuting Attorneys President and CEO David LaBahn said:
“The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys – a national prosecutors association that represents and supports prosecutors and their deputies at the local, county, state and federal level - strongly supports the introduction of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act. It has been 50 years since there was a holistic review of the national criminal system and this effort is long overdue. We applaud Senators Peters, Graham and Cornyn for the introduction of this crucial legislation.”
Chief Richard Beary, President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) said:
“I commend Senators Peters, Cornyn, and Graham for introducing this important legislation. For over 20 years, the IACP has called for the creation of a National Commission on Criminal Justice to develop across-the-board improvements to the criminal justice system, in order to address current challenges and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire criminal justice community. The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2015 will do just that. It is imperative that we explore all aspects of the criminal justice system and determine what needs to be revamped and develop a strong set of recommendation to address the broad range of new and emerging challenges that confront law enforcement today.”
Jonathan F. Thompson, Executive Director and CEO of the National Sheriffs’ Association said:
“The National Sheriffs’ Association applauds Senators Peters, Graham and Cornyn for introducing this bill to establish a National Criminal Justice Commission. We believe it is in the best interest of the nation to have a transparent system going forward.”
Donnell R. White, Executive Director Detroit Branch NAACP said:
“There are serious challenges at every stage of our criminal justice system that undermine the basic tenets of justice, fairness and equality. A thorough and exhaustive review of our entire criminal system is overdue, and too many events over the past year have made it abundantly clear that we need comprehensive criminal justice reform. I support Senator Peters’ leadership on this effort and I look forward to working with him and other concerned individuals to make these crucial changes that will help save lives, prevent crime and help law enforcement keep our communities safe.”
Police Officers Association of Michigan Legislative Director Kenneth E. Grabowski said:
“The Police Officers Association of Michigan supports Senator Peters’ bill to create a commission to review law enforcement, from top to bottom. In too many instances, the line police officer is forgotten about in the making of decisions for the law enforcement community. But, when things go bad, it's the line officer who first gets blamed. It is time for a major review. Senator Peters is on the right track.”
Michigan Fraternal Order of Police State President J.P. Sadowski said:
“The Michigan the Fraternal Order of Police supports Senator Peters’ legislation that would create a National Commission on Law Enforcement, which will be in order, to make recommendations that will improve Policing, the Administration of Justice and our Nation’s Criminal Justice System as a whole. We look forward to working with our Legislators, Local Leaders and Associated Experts to put this Commission together, so that we may improve on and better serve the Communities of our Country.”
Victor Fitz, President of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan said:
“Prosecution leaders in Michigan look forward to working with Senator Peters and all other stakeholders to improve the criminal justice system for victims, citizens and defendants. Justice and public safety must always be our primary objectives.”
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