Bills seek end to racial profiling

     The ABA expressed support April 10 for the proposed End Racial Profiling Act, which the association maintains represents a comprehensive federal commitment to heal the rift caused by racial profiling and restore public confidence in the criminal justice system.

     “Recent events demonstrate that racial profiling remains a divisive issue that strikes at the very foundation of our democracy,” ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote to Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the sponsors of S. 1670 and H.R. 2618, respectively.

     “When law-abiding citizens are treated differently by those who enforce the law simply because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin, they are denied the basic respect and equal treatment that is the right of every American,” Susman wrote. He added that the practice of using race as a criterion of law enforcement undermines the progress that has been made toward racial equality since passage of sweeping civil rights legislation decades ago.

     In addition to prohibiting racial profiling by federal, state or local law enforcement agencies, S. 1670 and H.R. 2618 would grant the United States or an individual injured by racial profiling the right to obtain declaratory or injunctive relief. The bill also would mandate that racial profiling issues be part of federal law enforcement training and that data be collected on all routine or spontaneous investigatory activities. In addition, the Justice Department would be authorized to provide grants for the development and implementation of best police practices and require the attorney general to provide periodic reports to assess the nature of any ongoing discriminatory profiling practices.

     “Using racial profiling makes it less likely that certain affected communities will voluntarily cooperate with law enforcement and community policing efforts,” Cardin said when he introduced S. 1670. “Minorities living and working in these communities also may feel discouraged from travelling freely, and it corrodes the public trust in government.”

 

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