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RAC Submits Testimony for Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing

RAC Submits Testimony for Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing

Tomorrow, Senator Durbin is holding a final hearing for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The Senator’s goal for the hearing is to assess what has been accomplished in recent years and what still needs to be done on key civil and human rights issues. The RAC has submitted written testimony to show the strength of our community’s interest in the topics the subcommittee works on. Our testimony covers a number of the important issues including voting rights, criminal justice and sentencing reform, the death penalty, hate crimes, and more.

As we look ahead to the new Congress, we hope to see strong bipartisan efforts to address the many civil and human rights issues which will be brought up during the hearing. We know that criminal justice reform already has bipartisan support and are encouraged by the progress that has already been made at the state level. Our nation’s use of the death penalty has also received bipartisan attention lately when an unlikely group of bipartisan supporters fought for a stay of execution for Scott Panetti, who is seriously mentally ill. Fortunately, a federal appeals court issued a stay, which halted the execution.

In light of recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island, it has become even more clear that are country still has work to do to achieve justice and freedom for all. This hearing comes at a significant and will demonstrate the importance of these issues and diverse group of advocates that are working to make our country better. Below is a section of the testimony. The hearing can be watched live on CSPAN at 2:30 pm tomorrow.

Below is a segment of the testimony that discusses the Death in Custody Reporting Act. Make sure to urge your Senator to support the Death in Custody Reporting Act and help pass it before the end of the year.

“The current lack of uniform reporting requirements has made it impossible to know how many people are dying in custody of law enforcement and from what causes. The result, in addition to the tragic loss of life, has sadly been to weaken trust in law enforcement. The bipartisan Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 (H.R. 1447) would provide much-needed transparency in the criminal justice system. The law would require and facilitate the collection of information regarding the deaths of prisoners in custody, alleviating the environment of suspicion, concern and mistrust that currently exists.

In December 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act, but the Senate has yet to act. Now is the time to address this shortcoming that undermines our criminal justice system.”