Criminal Justice and Police Reform

Today, our nation is taking a hard look at itself and our institutions, and Americans are calling for change. I join New Mexico and the entire nation in demanding justice, equality, and an end to systemic racism and violence against Black Americans and other people of color. It’s our job as members of Congress to take action, because Black Lives Matter.

We must confront these difficult truths about systemic injustice and racism head on, and work for real reforms to end the excessive use of force by law enforcement, bring real accountability and transparency into the justice system, and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. No person should feel unsafe at home, or fear for their child when they come into contact with the very people meant to keep us safe. The flaws in our justice system are deep and undermine the safety of our communities. We must do better as a nation.

Justice in Policing Act

I am an original cosponsor of the Justice in Policing Act, legislation that takes key steps to end police violence that has disproportionately targeted Black Americans and other communities of color in the United States. This legislation will importantly reform the current law of “qualified immunity” that often makes it difficult to hold police officers accountable. The bill would also work to end racial and religious profiling, save lives by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants, limit military equipment on American streets and require body cameras, hold police accountable in court, further enable investigation into police misconduct, empower communities to reimagine public safety in an equitable and just way, change the culture of law enforcement with training to build integrity and trust, improve transparency by collecting data on police misconduct and use-of-force and designate lynching as a federal crime.

While this bill would implement long-overdue reforms to policing nationwide, our nation must confront longstanding racial injustices that are embedded in the justice system, and that exclude people of color from systems of government and access to equal economic opportunity. We all need to work hard to reform a nation whose government has racism embedded in its systems, and work toward equality and justice for all.

The First Step Act

Meaningful criminal justice reform is crucial, which is why I cosponsored the FIRST STEP Act and joined my Senate colleagues in voting it into law. The FIRST STEP Act is an important step for reforming America’s federal prison and sentencing system to promote public safety, address racial disparities, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayer dollars. Specifically, the Act tackles the issue of unnecessarily harsh prison sentences. More than two-thirds of federal prisoners serving a life sentence or a virtual life sentence have been convicted of non-violent crimes. The FIRST STEP Act also shortens mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses and eases a federal “three strikes” rule — which currently imposes a life sentence for three or more convictions — and issues a 25-year sentence instead.