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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 12, 2014 6:00am-8:01am EST

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it is too early to draw conclusions when federal investigations are still going down on many of those issues and i appreciate the sensibility of this remark. please understand that ain't wish folks are feeling on the street, the king was that penetrated this body, pulled aside by senate pages and many people we walk by this body who do the dignified and important work, yet menial work who asked me to do something about this, what is that this they are
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talking about? this was raised in a community which my family in 1969 the year of my birth, the first black family to integrate to the area. my classmates and teammates were all white growing. my closest friends, i feel blessed and privileged to have so many people who are like blood to me and all different backgrounds. i knew growing up our experiences as our parents talked to us about police officers talked to us about the hideous. there was dramatic difference between the exportation of black parents, latino parents and white parents. i remember my parents lecturing me with a anger in their voice that i did not have the margin of error when it comes to experimenting with drugs or other behavior's others have. what i want to do is put this in context of what you called us to talk about which is legislation and put it to a context to it
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horrible history in our country, at the history of bias we desperately try to work our way out of. in my lifetime we have seen something happen that is remarkable on the planet earth which is the explosion of the american prison system, to the point america as 5% of the globe's population, 25% of the world, of humanity's imprisoned people and by god, we do not have a country that has more criminals, more crime in tent people in china or russia or india. that explosion of criminality has made us seem in the last 30 years and 800% increase in the federal prison population. half of those prisoners at the federal level and the majority on an actual level were her
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non-violent offenders, non-violent, not picking up guns, not needing people in the streets, not assault. we as americans unlike any other country bear the burden of spending a quarter of $1 trillion carrying the system and the point that is felt in the english of staff are talk to in the senate and people protesting is not the specifics of pieces necessarily but the knowledge we all have the none of my colleagues, republican or democrat, that the system is woefully bias against minorities in our country. the data screens we all have access to that we all now. there is no difference with marijuana usage between blacks and whites, none whatsoever. the last three presidents admitted to using marijuana. one said he did not inhale.
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yet an african-american is 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana usage than someone that is white. that is a fact. we know we have a criminal justice system that has unconscionable outcomes that do not reflect the highest values the children of every ilk pledge allegiance to, values that we swear oaths to, that we should have with that building across the way says powerfully written in stone, equal justice under law. what do i mean by some of these things that jump up and call to the conscience of this country, we have a nation where african-americans make up 13% of the u.s. population but 40% of the imprisoned population. my state is 13% and 60% of the prison population. non-violent offenders that
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according to the 2012 report would do a sentencing commission in 2007-2009, drug sentences for african-american men were 13% longer, and latino youths today by the age of 23, 24% of latino youth will be arrested. 44% for -- most of them for nonviolent offenses. we know the sad reality for african-american men. one in three african-americans can expect to be incarcerated at some point unless we make a change. when you hear about police violence, trust me. i was mayor of a great american city. it was challenging and complicated, a constant battle to keep my community safe. these were nuanced the shoes. we struggle with them.
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we know that right now there are 6.5 million people arrested against 2.6 african-americans arrested in a year. blacks and whites, violent crime, not violent crime, 6.5 versus 2.6 white to black, now someone who is african-american according to data quoted by my republican colleagues, time magazine, 21 more times more likely to be shot dead by a police officer. african-americans, 21 more times more likely to be shot dead by police officer so i ain't wishy over the fact that my country has been evolve into a dedicated acts of black-and-white through slavery, through jim crow, but i
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find myself a senator at a time we have an ironic reality. there are more african-americans now in prison under criminal supervision than all the slaves in 1850. so this is a team full reality because we as a body, congress has the power to change this. the elected leadership showing this most clearly is not coming from the federal level but coming from the state and remarkably, refreshingly it is coming from red states, read state governors with their legislatures are passing legislation that this body should be passing, showing clearly that you can deal with this overincarceration problem through common sense bipartisan legislation. one example i will give as i need to my quote is georgia.
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and the result of his common sense reform is a dramatic reduction in a prison population, 20% reduction of five years in a number of incarcerated african-american men in their states, 20% reduction and so you can say what we want about the details of staten island or ferguson. a larger easygoing gone, anguishing the hearts of young people working in this institution to cities and neighborhoods and towns all over our country and the question is enough of the lamentation. when will there be legislation? it was all that had rang through the ages of our nation, that we have something so precious this
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week, all across the country jews will be beating a portion of the torah that has a section with these words that are written and inscribed on the very sight that martin luther king was killed. i approve. of watching a movie and seeing black and whites joining hand-in-hand, latinos and other americans in this idea of america that these issues are not black or white. they are about justice. they are about america. people of good conscience, when there is clear and patent treatment being given to one body of americans but not another, there's a call to act, the idea and the dream and written on that place in memphis, tenn. one of the great americans, not black americans but one of the great americans, the words from the torah to call
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upon it now. simply, here come the dreamer, slay him and see what becomes of his dreams. there has been enough overincarceration. time to make the dream real and we through legislative efforts as illustrated by state after state to now follow suit, reduce our prison populations, lower crime, save taxpayers' money and more effectively held the highest ideals of the country. >> thank you, senator. congressman luis gutierrez. >> thank you for inviting me to testify regarding the current state of civil and human rights in the united states and thank you for advocating for justice and equality. i have always valued your advice
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and counsel, your leadership on the judiciary committee and as chairman of the subcommittee has contributed to our nation and protecting the civil rights of all of us and i can in to say thank you. before i begin my wanted to send my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of michael brown and eric gardner. we can all agree the loss of life is a great tragedy. as a parent i expressly want to say to the parents i am so sorry for your loss. in the wake of the grand jury decision to not indict the officers involved in the deaths of michael brown and gary gardner, communities throughout the country have taken to the streets to protest. many are deeply dissatisfied with the decision not to prosecute the police officers of ferguson and staten island and transparently examine their actions and circumstances that led to the deaths of two unarmed black men.
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the protests also exposed and equally disturbing issue, the killings of brown and gardner were not an isolated issue. i believe the visceral reaction is because these cases represent young men are treated unjustly by the police and many questioned their ability to receive justice through the current court system. these deaths exposed gaps in the criminal justice system, in particular the grand jury process and the inherent conflict in bringing charges against law enforcement. clea be we have more work to do to build trust between communities and what enforcement and our system of justice. african-americans are disproportionately impacted by the criminal-justice system overall. racial profiling officially or unofficially by some in law enforcement forces blacks and latinos to contend with the criminal-justice system more frequently in a completely different way than many others in our society. minority communities have a higher prosecution rate at the
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post conviction stage, orders tend to be harsher among minorities. all too often, latino and blacks are victims of excessive use of force at the hands of a police officer. the issue is exacerbated when local and state police departments are equipped with military equipment as was the case in ferguson, missouri this last summer. the cycle continues. as we saw last week with grand juries guided by prosecutors with the police, failed to offer a trial in open court. is not surprising the system breeds mistrust. this vicious cycle not only affects individuals but also affect our african-american and latino communities as a whole. when we see children like michael brown, michael brown and their gardner and trayvon martin we see our own families and our own love one's. ask any latino or african-american parent with a live in a suburb and a housing
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project and they will tell you they fear for their children's safety any time they leave the house. rather than thinking of police as public servants to protect the safety of their children, too often they think of local police as one of the problems their children have to face. i think of my daughter jessica who was stopped because she was driving in too nice of a car. she was with her friends in her own neighborhood, armani and that apparently made the mistake of living in a neighborhood they could afford to live in, not one police officers thought she should be living in. when i was stopped and refused admission to this very capitol complex early in my ear because as a capitol hill police officer said i didn't look like a congressman. too many have faced profiling, explicit, and alain and potentially dangerous. when the profiler has badge or a gun. i respect and appreciate the
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hard work law-enforcement officers do to keep our community safe. we worked to get more cops on the street to invest in violence reduction programs, reduce the number of guns in the communities of often target police officers and make sure we honor and a police officers for the dangers, thankless work police officers do. i am also proud to be an original cosponsor of the end racial profiling act which is clearly and sorely needed. with regard to revise providing guidelines issued by the department of justice i am deeply disappointed. they did not close significant loopholes as they pertain to the department of homeland security which allow whole sections of america's law enforcement entities including customs, border patrol and transportation security administration to continue the profile of many innocent americans. i am disheartened that the new
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guidance of federal agents that exempt local, county and state law enforcement. civil and human rights in america continue to be a work in progress. thanks to the leadership of chairman dick durbin and many colleagues seated with me today. we are able to celebrate the strides we have made 2 more equal and just nation and chart the course of continued progress in the future but it is tempered by knowing we cannot rest in the pursuit of justice and fairness especially in the case of tragic and needless causes. we have come a long way. cory booker is a testament to that. my buddy keith ellison is a testament to that. thank you for your wonderful leadership. >> thank you. congressman keith ellison of minnesota. >> thanks to my fellow senator,
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al franken and the entire panel and i was inspired by the words of my fellow panelists, they were amazing and i want to say ditto to everything they said. last week, 15-year-old hussain was run over by a man in an suv and that bumper sticker on his cot said islam is worse than ebola. i am not here to talk and focus on the crime and discrimination all those that deserves all the attention we can muster. i would like to talk about discrimination that happens at the hands of state actors. we should shine a light on all forms of discrimination but the events we have seen over the last few weeks demonstrate how very important it is for the state and people who act on behalf of the state to get it right. people have a legitimate, higher
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expectation of people who operate on behalf of the state. our government is a democratic government and is a constitution, the people have every right to believe the government is there to protect the general welfare and that makes it all the more disappointing when people who operate on behalf of the state failed to live up to that expectation. people have a right to believe they will be dealt with justly and fairly by the state but when the state violates people's rice is fair for people to wonder who will protect my rights if the state will not? that is why people are particularly incensed by encounters between citizens and law enforcement. people are grateful for law enforcement. we believe in law enforcement. i am grateful for law enforcement and i know people in law enforcement, most go into it because they want to help people but when they fail and excessive
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force is employed is incredibly disappointing and it shakes people's confidence in what the state is supposed to do for them which is to protect them and promote their welfare. the injustice we have seen over the past week is not new. the first time the police have been videotaped using excessive force, none of us will forget rodney king, but people died in police custody, it isn't the first time that a grand jury has vetoed justice. why are people walking with their hands up saying i can't breathe? why are people saying don't shoot? why are they proclaiming these things all over cities in america? is it is because of a long train of abuses, not one particular case. people who want to argue over the nuance of one recent case in the news or another are free to do so but no one can deny the
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unmistakable pattern between police and communities, particularly black communities and men in that community. we can talk about air gardner and michael brown, but what about darren hunt who was -- at a toy? what about rodney king? by the way, it is a long train of abuses that goes back farther even then the commission report which says our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white, separate and unequal, 50 years ago we were dealing with this same issue and it is on us today and we must make a call to action to reverse this trend so every american can feel the government really is liberty and justice for all. instead of a system of justice that works for some, it doesn't work for all. this takes place within a social
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and economic context and i have to say when officer wilson confronted michael brown in ferguson, the interaction did not take place, ferguson's unemployment rate is 13%, double the national average. the number of poor people doubles over the last few years. all of ferguson's neighborhoods where the poverty rate of 20%. if we respond by ordering police cameras, as this will be good stuff. if we have a grand jury reform, require preliminary hearings in officer involved shooting so we have more transparency these will all be good things but they will not stop the pattern unless we deal with the structural, economic abandonment of cities
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like ferguson. we cannot continue to solve our economic and social problems with criminal justice solutions. low-income and minority communities are overpolice stand underprotected is the spark. poverty and economic deprivation is a killing and that is what like a flame. i say yes to body cameras and all types of reforms but please, let us not forget investing in infrastructure, education, public job programs, and providing social supports which help people stay away from the hardest aspect of an unfair economy are essentials. you do not sell loosely on the streets of staten island if you are making a livable wage. we know we have been in the quality problem and the ceo of walmart makes $12,000 an average and the average walmart worker
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makes $8.48 and the ceo of mcdonnell's makes $2,900 an hour and a catchy makes $8.25. please do not forget dealing with the economic deprivation that kindled these situations is incredibly important. is important in the recent cases, it will be important in the future. i would like to turn my attention for a moment to talk about the problems that affect the muslim community in particular. societal discrimination is real. i have been a victim of it myself in my own state only a few days ago. account tea party chairman called muslims parasites and said they should be flagged, to kill them violently. a state senator in oklahoma said american muslims are cancer in our nation that needs cutting
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out. when we arrived at how the state deals with this muslim population we know the we are already dealing with a situation in which so many in the law enforcement community sees the muslim community as a security problem. not fully fledged members of the community here to make a contribution. i too was disappointed in the guidance that was recently issued by the department of justice. at no time can we have a system of justice in which someone's race or religion or what they're wearing can justify engagement by law enforcement. when there is some particulates suspicions that that person might commit a specific crime and that should be the basis of the engagement until we say racial profiling, religious profiling is bad law enforcement.
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we will continue to bother people and engage people who have nothing to do with any wrongdoing and we will miss people who are up to no good and will harm us. thank you committee members in my panel, a fellow panelists for this excellent presentation. >> keith ellison, thank you. luis gutierrez, great to see you over here. cory booker, thanks, i appreciate it. >> i dismiss with gratitude our first panel and thank them for adding to this. i want to acknowledge from the audience, marvin castro, chair of the commission on civil rights, good to see you. i would like to call someone to the table. coming to the table i give an introduction on them, one long-term friend, president, chief executive officer of the leadership council on human rights, leadership conference is the nation's permanent pre-eminence of the land
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human-rights coalition with 200 national organizations in its membership. mr. henderson, a professor of the district of columbia school of law joining the leadership committee conference. was washington bureau director of the naacp, graduate of rutgers university school of law. cedric alexander served as president of noble, national organization of black law enforcement executives, others appearing. and dr. rao alexander previously served as federal security director. ed commissioner of public safety, and chief of police in rochester new york, and law enforcement people for 50 years in florida and a doctoral degree in clinical writes university.
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and a familiar friend, laura murphy of the washington legislative office of the american civil liberties union, a position she has held on several occasions, the first woman, first african-american, longest serving head of the federal affairs operation in aclu's history. she received a bachelor's from bose lee college. it is the custom to swear in our witnesses if you would all please rise. do you affirm the testimony you are about to give before the subcommittee is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? all three witness's answer in the affirmative. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, members of the subcommittee. i am president and ceo of the leadership conference on civil and human-rights coalition of
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more than 200 national organizations representing persons of color, women, children, organized labor, persons with disabilities, seniors, the lesbian, and gay, bisexual and transgendered community and faith based community. that niece start by thanking you for your remarkable leadership of the subcommittee. from the passage of bipartisan legislation like the mac you shepard and james bird jr. he crimes prevention act and the fair sentencing act to chairing hearings examining voting rights, stand your ground laws, and the civil rights of american muslims, you have been a champion on issues of vital importance to the civil and human rights community. let me acknowledge ranking member ted cruz in your role as new chair of the subcommittee for 114th congress. we are hopeful as the new chair you will build on the subcommittee's legacy and continue to work in a bipartisan
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fashion to make progress for our nation. we look forward to collaborating with you to achieve our common goal of protecting and advancing civil and human rights for all americans. this hearing is taking place at a pivotal time for the nation. the recent killings of a large black boys and men by police officers across the country have fuelled a growing, diverse, passionate and increasingly organized movement for justice across racial lines that cannot be ignored. in particular, the recent non indictments of the police officers who killed michael brown in ferguson, missouri and derrick bonner in staten island, new york and the new information about the suitability of officer timothy low asman who kills rice in cleveland, ohio, with an country founded on principles of equality and opportunity, african-americans and other communities of color. still find the promise of equality and opportunity has yet
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to be fully realized. on you be every indicator we use in the united states to measure progress people of color are falling further behind and in some important ways doing worse than they were in the 1960s. our schools have segregated, levels of unemployment are at an all-time high, we face continued discrimination in voting and incarceration rates increased exponentially. as we mark a number of anniversaries this year and next including the civil rights act, freedom summer, voting rights act end bloody sunday we must acknowledge and celebrate how far we have come but we must also be aware of just how far we have to go in the quest for equality. systemic obstacles to full inclusion and opportunity remain for our communities and we failed to establish justice and the quality that we all seek.
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without question our criminal-justice system is in crisis. racial and ethnic bias in discrimination persists at every stage from policeing to trial to sentencing and finally to reentry. we should use our resources to more adequately address public safety and invest in alternatives to incarceration where appropriate. .. track and respond the hate
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violence and improve hate crime data collection. more than a decade after president bush announced that racial profiling is, and i quote, wrong and we will end it in america, unquote, communiti communities, particularly african-americans, latinos, asian-americans, arab and muslim-americans and those perceived to be arab and muslim, including south asians, middle easterners are still subjected to profiling and a variety of contexts, including street-level enforcement, immigration enforcement and counterterrorism efforts. profiling is an ineffective law enforcement practice. it is detrimental to public safety and is antithetical to the constitutional right of equal protection under the law. yesterday the department of justice issued long-awaited revisions to its 2003 to profiling guidance or federal law enforcement. this represents an important step forward by expanding
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protected categories and limiting some existing loopholes. where it falls short in areas of national security, border integrity and the failure to apply state and local enforcement, we will work with this administration to end to profiling by all and six. the shortfalls and the guidance we enforce the need for congress to act and we will redouble our efforts to ensure passage of the end racial profiling act in the 114th congress. i would like to turn next to voting rights. while the days of poll taxes, literacy tests and brutal physical intimidation are behind us, voting discrimination is still a problem for many americans. last month midterm elections were the first to be held without the protection of section five of the voting rights act because of the supreme court's 2013 shelby county versus holder decision. and we so increased efforts to
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implement new restrictions on voters, includin could mandatorr identification laws and limits on early voting, last minute changes at polling places, changes methods of elections and recently biased gerrymandering that disproportionally impacts communities of color. as a result we witnessed the most unfair, confusing and discriminatory election landscape in almost 50 years. it is a disgrace to our citizens, to our nation and to our standing in the world as a beacon of democracy. the one at 14th congress must fix the shelby decision to ensure that no voter faces discrimination. these are big challenges, mr. chairman. the leadership conferences goal, to create an america as good as its ideals. it's not just rhetoric. this is the critical and necessary work in which all americans of good conscience should be engaged, particularly
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our elected officials who are charged with addressing problems of national importance. we look forward to working with you and the subcommittee on these important issues. thank you, sir. >> dr. alexander. >> thank you, sir, and good afternoon, chairman turbine and ranking member crews and members of the subcommittee i bring you greater up half of executive board and members of national organization of black law enforcement executives, referred to as noble. my name is doctor cedric alexander, national president of noble and deputy chief operating for public safety. it is a honor to be here today to purchase it as a witness in the senate hearing on the state of civil and human rights in united states. i won't touch want to talk and thank you, chairman turbine, for only this hearing and inviting me to participate. i speak from the perspective of person who has over 37 years of law enforcement experience and to sell a number of high level positions in federal county and
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city local levels. in addition, quite frankly senator some days i don't know whether that's an asset or a liability. what i represent an organization, noble, whose mission is to ensure equity and administration of justice in a vision of public service to all committees and to serve in the conscious of law enforcement i've been committed to justice by action. it is my position that this country has a unique opportunity to that, to address lack of trust and understanding of law enforcement by communities of color. it is imperative to every citizen that we collectively have solutions to their training, committee policing and technology to ensure that that -- that america is secure both domestically and internationally. secondly, through the solution were able to further -- of many
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of our forefathers and realizing true civil rights and human rights estate in the declaration of independence. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, they're not by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. recent events in ferguson, missouri, and the staten island, new york, were combined with real and/or perceived attacks on civil rights legislation have created an environment where many people of color feel disenfranchised by the national and local government. more importantly there is a basic belief, right or wrong, that the lives of minorities are less valuable than that of their counterparts. so with that, let's talk about solutions to building bridges of understanding and partnership between enforcement and communities, they are to serve in to protect.
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training being at the forefront of all of this, -- critical code to bridging the gap amongst law enforcement in communities of color. it is the foundation for people of different cultures and social economic background to interact effectively. wing developed and implemented as a framework, it enables systems, agencies and groups of professionals to function effectively to understand the needs of culturally diverse groups. it is critical law enforcement ensures that reflect the 21st century needs and incorporate competency training for police officers. that is part of the recruiting and in service training. letter ration of attrition of police has become a growing concern and interest to our country in recent years for the use of tactical equipment and gear to combat everyday crime.
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at 1033 program was greeted by the national defense authorization act in 1997 as part is the government's defense logistics agency. to transfer excess military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. every year hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military equipment flows from the federal government to state and local police departments. as a result departments have a limited use of military equipment as seen most recently in ferguson, missouri. which too many americans was unfairly targeted towards other american citizens. there must be justification, accountability and training to support the continued use of such tactical measures and equipment. noble feels training is a key component of ensuring the correct application of this type of resource. community oriented policing which we all have heard a lot about over the years, it is our
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recommendation that the law enforcement committed a top community policing as a philosophy of policing in this country. here's some of the key components of community policing. community policing allows officers to demonstrate their support for the community. residents and officers are allies. officers respect to protect the civil rights of residents, racial profiling and other forms of discrimination are strictly prohibited. satyarthi and officers interact with people who live or work in neighborhoods that they patrol. officers are trained to communicate with people, sal committee problems and develop an appreciation of cultural and ethic differences. the other side of that it's very important as well that communities work closely with police, london those with the local police and become partners. this is not a one way street. this is a two-way \street/{-|}street when we talk about public safety. it takes everyone, police and
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community together, in order to provide the type of public safety i think that we all want to embrace in our respective communities. community policing fsis importance in the valley of human life, the use of excessive force is prohibited, and deadly force is reserved strictly for when an officer's life or the life of a citizen is at risk. noble has launched a pilot program entitled the law in your community. funding from the department of justice, this program aim is to develop trust and understanding between law enforcement and the committee. the law in your committee is an interactive training program of young people between ages of 13-18. it is designed to improve their communicate with law enforcement officers and their understanding of federal, state and local laws. components of the program include but not limited to citizenship. what does it means to be a citizen? what are the laws governing
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everyday life including traffic laws? and what are your rights as a citizen. basic laws, understand the basic laws of issues such as gun ownership, staying safe within your communities, maintain positive relations with others, including. relationships, maintain good grades, adult relationships and the benefits of having mentors. law enforcement engagement, educating young people and adults on how to engage and navigate communication with local law enforcement officers. what is community policing, and have a better understanding of the realities of working in law enforcement and working with those who do that job. and lastly, technology. we feel that technology can be leveraged to support effective implementation of community policing adventure maximum transparency to the public. group of technology partnerships with can be strengthening of problem-solving and partnership initiative. likewise, there's an important
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role in applying technology and improving the effectiveness of law enforcement training. listed are some of those technology recommendations. requirements of body cameras for every law enforcement officer in this country. every law enforcement officer in this country. deployment of various social media platforms to allow law enforcement departments to better communicate and interact with local residents. and, of course, use of force and firearms training systems which will help them to develop and sharpen their skills of shoot and don't shoot. by implementing these recommendations on training, community policing and technology, we believe that real progress can be made in improving the relationship between law enforcement and communities they serve. this would greatly improve the state of civil rights and human rights in america. i thank the subcommittee for the opportunity to testify and would be happy to answer any questions that you may have. thank you.
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>> thank you, doctor alexander. >> thank you, senator durbin and ranking member cruz for inviting the aclu to testify at today's hearing. for nearly 100 years the aclu has worked to defend and preserve the rights that the constitution and the laws of the united states guaranteed. i would especially like to thank you, senator durbin, for your tireless leadership as chairman. you have held hearings on a variety of critical issues, from solitary confinement to racial profiling and addressing barriers to voting, and for that we are so very thankful. my written testimony provides an extensive and broader view of the state of civil and human rights. but today i will focus my remarks on three areas of
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unfinished business. one, the militarization of police. two, sentencing reforms, and three, criminal disenfranchisement and voting. we are standing at a crossroads in america right now. one must only look to the current crises in ferguson, in new york city, and in cleveland to see the extreme problems in policing continues. with recent police paramilitary tactics splashed across our tv screens, we must ask ourselves, do we want an america where the exercise of first amendment rights is met by assault weapons and tear gas? we are armored vehicles are used in our day-to-day policing? where leasing resembles our military operations in iraq and
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afghanistan? where communities of color are disproportionately under seizure? if the answer to these questions is no, congress must act immediately. militarized policing goes far beyond ferguson, although swat teams were originally created to do with life or death emergencies like hostage crises, they are now overwhelmingly used to serve search warrants in drug investigations. a recent aclu report found that swat teams were used 79% of the time for raping a person's home. most often for drugs. such tactics are unnecessary and excessive. what message are we sending to use weapons of war to police american communities?
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congress must ensure accountability. federal funding and providing military equipment to be conditioned on data collection, use of a body worn cameras, anti-racial profiling training and insisted on community policing as my good friend has pointed out. the war on drugs has created an incarceration nation. with too many people in prison for too long serving no useful benefit to society. one of the major reasons for expanded jail and prison population over the past 30 years is the use of stiff mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent offenses. prison costs now absorbing nearly one-third of doj's discretionary budget. 30%. the cost though go far beyond
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simply the money it takes to incarcerate over 2.3 million people. the true costs are human lives, mainly of generation of young black and latino men and women who serve long prison sentences and are lost to their families and communities. organizations across the political spectrum support truly bipartisan sentencing reforms such as the smarter sentencing act, and we thank you for that. that act would address the ongoing crisis in our federal prisons by reducing the prison population. the sfa is sponsored by senators durbin, leahy, leahy, treachery and representatives of bobby scott and raul leopard were. the bill also has considerable conservative support.
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the time is now to pass the smarter sentencing act. it's only a first step in reducing overincarceration. there's another tragic outcome of our nation's incarceration binge. almost 6 million of our citizens have lost the right to vote because of a past criminal conviction, in many instances for very low level crimes. upon release from prison, the citizens work, they pay taxes, they live in our communities and they raise families. but millions cannot vote. one out of every 13 african-americans of voting age has lost the right to vote. that is four times the national average, but millions have no input on our political process. that is unacceptable.
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we commend senators ben cardin and rand paul for their leadership in this area, and we urge the passage of the democracy restoration act, a bill that would restore voting rights in federal elections to millions of citizens. ending discrimination should be and historically has been a bipartisan issue. just consider the multiple voting rights at extensions that we have had. consider the fair sentencing act of 2010. these would not have happened without bipartisan support. only with bipartisan support can we make much needed changes to our criminal justice policy. and i'm sorry, senator cruz had to leave because we would like to work with him as well on changing our criminal justice
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policies. we look for to working with him as the new chair, and all members of the subcommittee in the 114th congress on these critical issues. i want to thank you so much for this opportunity to testify. and before i end i would ask special consideration before the hearing record is closed. i would like to ask if the aclu they said that the document outlining some of the gender related problems in our criminal justice system. >> without objection. >> thank you. >> thanks, ms. murphy. mr. henderson. >> no was a time when witnesses came before the subcommittee and told us about what had happened when we had the 100 to one disparity between crack and powder cocaine. over the span of 20 years or more, there was a massive incarceration of african-americans unjustly, unfairly, for undo longer to time, but there was another
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reaction to the african-american community understood. and as a consequence when many of these same people were called to serve on juries to try people for drug crimes, they remembered. it became increasingly difficult for prosecutors in some areas to win a prosecution for perjury that was integrated. they told us that story and it was understandable. let me take it to what i think we currently face, at least in some communities that i am aware of. we have seen a decline in violent crime in the city of chicago but still too many violent crimes. the majority, overwhelming majority, are black on black crimes. when he visited the communities that are the most dangerous, with the children are the most danger and back and forth to school, even playing sitting on the porch can you find a reaction from people in the community that they don't reach out to police. they don't cooperate with police. they fear the drug gangs, and
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those who own the guns but they fear reaching out to the police is going to be just as dangerous or unproductive. to areas of notification but one that has a direct negative impact on people living there. tell me how you react to that. >> well, mr. chairman, it is a terrific question at a think you have correctly pointed out some of the challenges that law enforcement and the communities that they are paid to protect often encountered in the relationship with one another. the relationship between law and force but and the african-american community as senator booker helped out in his presentation has a long history based on fundamental injustices better country has yet to fully overcome. and you correctly point out that
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communities experience in crime, regardless of the make up and color of that committee, needs the protection that law enforcement provides. on the other hand, when law enforcement is applied in consistently unfairly without equal protection and often without respect for the lives of the individuals that law enforcement is charged to protect, you develop a level of ambivalence and, indeed, a level of fear that may affect how you respond to the legitimate needs of law enforcement in the engagement with communities they serve. let me say at the outset this is not a generalized indictment of law enforcement. we know many police officers. we've worked with police officers, and many police officers are fully committed to protecting their charges regardless of the race of the communities they prosecute. having said that, there are identifiable problems, ma some of which have surfaced in the last several weeks in the cases that we have cited which clearly
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point out the need for further training and responsibility to ensure that these individuals are protected. one of the concerns that we expressed with the guidance issued by the department of justice is that it didn't go far enough to require state and local police officers not engaged in direct federal law enforcement activity, which is covered by the guidance, but law enforcement that relies on federal support, federal dollars, the equipment. that these departments should be required to attest under title vi of the civil rights act of 1964 which prohibits racial and ethnic and national origin discrimination. these departments should attest to the fact that the training programs designed to ensure that racial profiling or profiling of the kind we have discussed that should be prohibited does not take effect, the problems of unconscious bias which often affect police departments can be
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overcome with the training, that attestations of the fact that these departments have taken from the steps are needed. now to get back to your specific question about the communities that in turn are experiencing a crime and are careful about reporting those crimes to the police, representing another form of nullification, as i would say, the truth is most crime occurs in this country in communities which have inhabitants resent to suggest there is black on black crime just as there is white on white crime. the makeup of commuting often determines that. but having said that there is a legitimate concern on the part of many communities that reporting crime, as much as they would like to have the protection of police officers, often invites a level of systemic abuse which they had seen in the accommodation of our criminal laws and the unfairness of that law. so when we talk about
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incarcerating individuals or years at a time, for nonviolent drug-related criminal activity, and yet we turned to look at legal use of the same product in states like colorado that have individual incarcerated for long periods of time, whether it's in illinois or minnesota or other locations, there's obviously some sense of unfairness and injustice. we need to try to reconcile that. and one last point. on the fair sentence, we have talked about here, but the truth is had you not show the kind of leadership that you demonstrated the willingness to reach out to senator sessions, your willingness to cut a deal. and we talked with you at that time. obviously, we are pleased to 100 to one disparity is being change. we had hoped that his party would of been eliminated entirely, that th there would he been a one to one ratio of incarceration based on crack or powder cocaine. nonetheless, they change that
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the two of you helped usher in and was approved by the senate has led to a substantial reduction in prison time for individuals who would've been adversely affect and, on average about three years. across the actors involved in the incarceration of these individuals and the impact that returning to their communities at an earlier point in time has had on the overall nature of the kennedy is beyond price and compare. you should be very proud of what you've been able to accomplish. >> thank you very much. senator franken. >> thank you, mr. chairman. boy, there's so much year. you know, this is a moment i think in this country that, you know, our first witnesses and all of you talked about how ferguson, staten island, cleveland are not anomalies.
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but this is, there's a focus now in this country, and this is a moment, a moment that i think we really need to at least, at the very least, try to grapple with this, try to focus on it, and try to legislate. i heard from a friend who i hadn't heard from in 20 years after this, after senator booker spoke, and you heard how powerfully he spoke today. he spoke in our caucus lunch. in that same evening i got an e-mail from a friend i hadn't seen in 20 years who said, you have to do something about this. i have conversations with my 15 year-old son that are very uncomfortable you're just like senator booker talked about, what it's like for young
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african-american male, that there's no margin for error in dealing with law enforcement. i want to ask dr. alexander, you talked about community policing, and i think, and it sounds to me that, i think what you are saying, mr. henderson i believe, was that when there's not federal crimes involved but still federal funding involved. >> right. >> and can we require some kind of protocol in community policing? and let me ask you something because this is the difference between ferguson and staten island i think, is ferguson, the police department did not really represent the community in its makeup. and i think in new york it does more. and this is for anyone on the panel, but maybe dr. alexander
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first. what does that say about training versus, or inlaid with having the police department represent the committees because well, it's important, senator. as we all know, diversity is very important concept. i think we all tend to be very close attention to, and one in this nation that i would hope whether it's government or private industry we all make some attempt to rectify, particularly when we see agencies such that maybe lacking in that area. diversity is usually important. there are many departments across this country who are doing it very well every day. and there's some communities in this country, senator, that struggle with the whole concept of diversity. some of it may be deliberate or they don't


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