The Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 (H.R. 1447) is crucial legislation that will 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 exists today in many racial and ethnic minority communities from coast to coast. In December, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act. The Senate must now introduce and pass a companion to H.R. 1447 before adjourning for the year so that the President can sign it into law.
Urge your Senators to introduce and pass this important legislation. Take action now!
Preventing and punishing criminal conduct are among the primary obligations of government at all levels. But it is also the obligation of government to ensure that no one is unjustly accused, convicted, or punished. In Deuteronomy 16:20, we are commanded, Tzedek, tzedek tirdof, "Justice, justice you shall pursue", and the sages explained that the word tzedek is repeated not only for emphasis but to teach us that we must be just in our pursuit of justice, that our means must be as just as our ends. Learn more about Jewish values and criminal justice. This action could not be timelier; in the midst of many national and international concerns regarding criminal justice and our justice system, and as we approach the Days of Awe, in which we repent and ask for forgiveness, it is important that we take this critical step to ensuring uniform reporting requirements for the deaths of people in custody and from what causes; the lack of such standards has resulted in addition to the loss of life, to have sadly been to weaken trust in law enforcement. Learn more about the RAC’s work on criminal justice. Learn more about the connection between criminal justice and the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe). Learn more about the RAC’s work on civil rights.