*The following post is part of JCJ’s Awareness to Action: 21 Days Toward Racial Justice campaign.*

On Thursday, June 25, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The passage of this bill came one day after the Senate failed to advance GOP-led policy reform legislation. The Jewish Center for Justice calls on the Senate to support the leadership of their colleagues Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and engage in negotiations based on the House passed bill.

✅ Use the NAACP’s Action Alert to urge the Senate to take action on the Bipartisan Justice and Policing Act passed in the House of Representatives on June 25th.

Important Links:

The Justice in Policing Act 2020’s stated intent is to “hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies.” The act is split into four main sections, Titles I, II, III, and IV. Title I addresses police accountability by implementing criminal justice reforms regarding police misconduct, making it easier to prosecute police for their crimes and to conduct pattern and practice investigations into police forces suspected of unconstitutional and discriminatory practices. It also mandates the development of uniform standards for police forces based on to-be-developed best practice policies, and implements an accreditation standard for police forces. Title II creates a national police misconduct registry compiling past misconduct complaints, discipline records, termination records, and records of certification for all federal, state, and local officers. It mandates that any use of force must be reported to the DOJ, and that officers may only be hired if they are certified within the state where they’re seeking a job. The first subsection of Title III provides financial resources and court enforcement to implement anti racial, religious, and other discriminatory profiling practices. The second subsection creates a training program on bias, procedural justice, and duty to intervene. It also creates bans on chokeholds, carotid holds, and no-knock warrants for federal law enforcement, and provides conditional funding to implement those same bans on a local level. It changes the use of force standard from “reasonableness” to necessity to prevent immediate injury, establishes deadly force as a last resort, limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to law enforcement, and mandates the use of car cameras and body cameras. Finally, Title IV is entitled the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act and makes it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing hate crime laws. 

The key connection between all these provisions is that they create accountability for police officers, dismantle some of the systems that protect police from punishment and legal prosecution to an unreasonable degree, and investigate and alter the extremely variable policies and cultures of individual police forces that oftentimes perpetuate racism. 

JCJ supports this bill amidst an effort to stop police brutality around the country because as Jews we believe in the sanctity of all human life, and as activists we advocate for justice. From a social justice standpoint, we recognize that resistance to drastic police reforms comes from the devaluing of the lives of marginalized peoples in our society. While we recognize that accountability is not enough to solve the ongoing issue of inequity in policing and police brutality, we support this as a major first step to create a system of nationwide police accountability. We will continue to support statewide and local measures to change the structure of our police forces and emergency response systems from the ground up, but the framework for police and police-related criminal justice standards set forth under this act have the potential to drastically alter police forces for the better.

Jewish Values: 

  • Tikkun Olam – Repairing the world – we are taught as Jews to do whatever we can to repair the world, and part of that responsibility is bringing equity and justice to our legal system and law enforcement. 
  • Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof – Justice, Justice you shall pursue – Police brutality and racial profiling are clear societal injustices that we have an obligation to rememdy as Jews.
  • Pikuach Nefesh – the value of human life above all else – The Jewish value of Pikuach Nefesh teaches us to value the sanctity of human life above all else. We are even allowed to break any other Jewish law if it means saving a life. As a country, we have failed to create real policy change to preserve the lives of People of Color who are disproportionately affected by police brutality. As Jews it is our responsibility to intervene and actively work to preserve as many lives as we can by holding police accountable when they commit crimes, and to create a more just and equitable policing system

Action Items:

  • Contact Senator Harris or Senator Booker’s offices and ask what we can do to support passage of this bill
  • Contact your Senators and ask for their support on the bill 
  • Blog post & social media campaign

Bill Progress:

  • Passed through House Judiciary Committee (24-14)
  • Passed through HOR with bi-partisan support (236-181)