Jan Schakowsky on Crime
Democratic Representative (IL-9)
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. JOHN CONYERS (D, MI-14):This bill expands existing Federal hate crimes law to groups who are well-known targets for bias-based violence--they are sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. These crimes of violence are directed not just at those who are directly attacked; they are targeting the entire group with the threat of violence.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LAMAR SMITH (R, TX-21): Every year thousands of violent crimes are committed out of hate, but just as many violent crimes, if not more, are motivated by something other than hate--greed, jealousy, desperation or revenge, just to name a few. An individual's motivation for committing a violent crime is usually complex and often speculative. Every violent crime is deplorable, regardless of its motivation. That's why all violent crimes should be vigorously prosecuted. Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system--equal justice for all. Under this bill, justice will no longer be equal. Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim. It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime. This is the real injustice.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. CONYERS: Some 650,000 men and women are leaving the Federal and State prisons each year. While the vast majority of the prisoners are committed to abiding by the law and becoming productive members of society, they often encounter the same pressures & temptations that they faced before prison. More than two-thirds of them are arrested for new crimes within 3 years of their release. This exacts a terrible cost in financial terms as well as in human terms. The Second Chance Act will help provide these men and women with the training, counseling and other support needed to help them obtain & hold steady jobs; to kick their drug and alcohol habits; rebuild their families; and deal with the many other challenges that they face in their efforts to successfully rejoin society.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. GOHMERT: The programs that are sought to be renewed are ones we don't have information on how successful they were. I can tell you from my days as a judge, there was some anecdotal evidence that it looked like faith-based programs did a better job of dramatically reducing recidivism. In addition:
CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants) is a membership organization of families of prisoners, prisoners, former prisoners and other concerned citizens. CURE's two goals are
H.R. 1038, S.233:
To place a moratorium on executions by the Federal Government and urge the States to do the same, while a National Commission on the Death Penalty reviews the fairness of the imposition of the death penalty .S.486 & H.R.912:
To reduce the risk that innocent persons may be executed [by examining DNA evidence more thoroughly].
Title: To provide Federal assistance to States and local jurisdictions to prosecute hate crimes.
Summary: Provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any violent crime that is motivated by prejudice based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim or is a violation of hate crime laws.
Title: To reduce the risk that innocent persons may be executed.
OnTheIssues Notes: This bill affects only the FEDERAL death penalty, not STATE death penalties. The death penalty is currently implemented in 34 states. It was re-legalized by a Supreme Court decision in 1977, for both state and federal executions. Since then, 1,278 people have been executed, but only 3 of those have been federal executions. About 3,250 inmates remain on 'Death Row,' and 61 for federal death row. Texas is by far the national leader in executions--it has executed 477 people as of Jan. 2012, 37% of the national total. (Virginia is a very distant second with 109). In other words, this bill is largely symbolic, unless states followed the federal abolition.
Opposing press release from Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1):: The reform sentencing laws in this bill may compromise the safety of our communities. Criminals convicted of violent crimes would have the opportunity to achieve 'low risk' status and become eligible for early release. California already has similar laws in place--Propositions 47 and 57--which have hamstrung law enforcement and caused a significant uptick in crime.
Supporting press release from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10):: S. 756 establishes a new system to reduce the risk that [federal prisoners] will commit crimes once they are released. Critically, S. 756 would not only implement these reforms to our prison system, but it also takes a crucial first step toward addressing grave concerns about our sentencing laws, which have for years fed a national crisis of mass incarceration. The bill is a 'first step' that demonstrates that we can work together to make the system fairer in ways that will also reduce crime and victimization.
Legislative outcome: Concurrence Passed Senate, 87-12-1, on Dec. 18, 2018; Concurrence Passed House 358-36-28, Dec. 20, 2018; President Trump signed, Dec. 21, 2018
Legislative summary of H.R.4052: This bill prohibits the imposition of a death penalty sentence for a violation of federal law. A person sentenced to death before enactment of this bill must be resentenced.
Press release and letter on Connolly.House.gov: Capital punishment is unjust, racist and defective. The United States stands alone among its peers in executing its own citizens, a barbaric punishment that denies the dignity and humanity of all people and is disproportionately applied to people who are Black, Latinx, and poor. In their letter, the lawmakers called on President-Elect Biden to affirm his commitment to eliminating the death penalty--as laid out in his criminal justice reform plan--by ending it through executive action on Day 1 of his administration. The lawmakers also made clear that in the 117th Congress, they will continue to work to advance H.R. 4052, legislation to permanently abolish the death penalty.
ProPublica summary by Isaac Arnsdorf 12/23/20: Throughout the campaign, Trump highlighted executions as a contrast to Joe Biden's opposition to the death penalty, reinforcing Trump's "law and order" message. The Justice Department has killed 10 people since July, with three more executions scheduled before Biden's inauguration. "Death penalty all the way," Trump said at a February 2016 campaign event. "I've always supported the death penalty. I don't even understand people that don't."
Until this year, the Justice Department hadn't executed anyone since 2003. A drug that most states and the federal government used in lethal injections, a sedative called sodium pentothal, became unavailable because the sole American manufacturer stopped making it. Shortly after Trump's presidency began, his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, [pushed] to resolve these issues so that the federal Bureau of Prisons could resume executions.
Ratings by the National Association of Police Organizations indicate support or opposition to issues of importance to police and crime. The organization's self-description: "The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) is a coalition of police units and associations from across the United States. NAPO was organized for the purpose of advancing the interests of America's law enforcement officers through legislative advocacy, political action, and education.
"Increasingly, the rights and interests of law enforcement officers have been the subject of legislative, executive, and judicial action in the nationís capital. NAPO works to influence the course of national affairs where law enforcement interests are concerned. The following list includes examples of NAPOís accomplishments:
VoteMatch scoring for the NAPO ratings is as follows:
This bill addresses policing practices and law enforcement accountability:
Rep. Elise Stefanik in OPPOSITION (3/1/21): I voted against H.R. 1280--this bill poses a grave danger to law-abiding police officers, as it would eliminate qualified immunity protections, lower the standard for federal civil rights lawsuits, and limit access to necessary equipment during emergencies and natural disasters. Democrats rushed this bill to the House Floor without accepting any input from Republicans, expert testimony, or significant data. I am proud to sponsor the JUSTICE Act with Senator Tim Scott, to provide necessary reforms to end police brutality while protecting our law-abiding officers.
OnTheIssues explanation of "qualified immunity": "Qualified immunity" means that police officers (and other government officials) cannot be sued for actions on duty, unless knowingly taking unreasonable actions. This bill would limit "qualified immunity," which means the family in cases like George Floyd's could sue the police for civil damages.
Biden Administration in SUPPORT (3/1/21): We must begin by rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the people they are entrusted to serve and protect. We cannot rebuild that trust if we do not hold police officers accountable for abuses of power and tackle systemic misconduct--and systemic racism--in police departments.
Legislative Outcome: Passed House 220-212-0 on March 3, 2021, rollcall #60; received in Senate on March 9; no further Senate action during 2021.
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Open Seats / Turnovers 2022:
AL-5: Mo Brooks (R) running for AL Senator
CA-37: Karen Bass (D) running for mayor of Los Angeles
FL-10: Val Demings (D) running for FL Senator
FL-13: Charlie Crist (D) running for FL governor
HI-2: Kai Kahele (D) running for MD governor
MD-4: Anthony G. Brown (D) running for attorney general of Maryland
MO-4: Vicky Hartzler (R) running for MO Senator
MO-7: Billy Long (R) running for MO Senator
NY-1: Lee Zeldin (R) running for NY governor
NY-3: Thomas Suozzi (D) running for NY governor
NC-8: Ted Budd (R) running for NC Senator
NC-11: Madison Cawthorn (R) Incumbent lost renomination
OH-13: Tim Ryan (D) running for OH Senator
OK-2: Markwayne Mullin (R) running for OK Senator
OR-5: Kurt Schrader (D) Incumbent lost renomination
PA-17: Conor Lamb (D) running for PA Senator
SC-7: Tom Rice (R) Incumbent lost renomination
TX-1: Louie Gohmert (R) running for attorney general of Texas
VT-0: Peter Welch (D) running for VT Senator
Special Elections 2021:
LA-2: Troy Carter (R, April 2021)
LA-5: Julia Letlow (R, March 2021)
NM-1: Melanie Stansbury (D, June 2021)
OH-11: Shontel Brown (D, Nov. 2021)
OH-15: Mike Carey (R, Nov. 2021)
TX-6: Jake Ellzey (R, July 2021)
Hot Races 2022:
CA-27: Christy Smith (D) vs. Mike Garcia (R)
FL 27: Annette Taddeo (D) vs. Maria Elvira Salazar (R)
GA-7: Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) lost redistricting race to Lucy McBath (D)
GA-10: Vernon Jones(R) vs. Paul Broun (R,lost May 24 primary) to replace Jody Hice (R) running for Secretary of GA
ME-2: Bruce Poliquin (R) rematch against Jared Golden (D)
MI-10: John James (R) - running for newly redistricted seat
MI-11: Andy Levin (D) redistricted to face Haley Stevens (D)
MT 1: Ryan Zinke (R) - running for newly created seat
MT-2: Al Olszewski(R) vs. Sam Rankin(Libertarian) vs. Matt Rosendale(R)
NJ-7: Thomas Kean Jr. (R) challenging Tom Malinowski (R)
NY-10: Bill de Blasio (D) challenging Mondaire Jones (D)
NY-11: Max Rose (D) challenging Nicole Malliotakis (R)
NY 12: Carolyn Maloney (D) redistricted to face Jerry Nadler (D)
RI-2: Seth Magaziner (D) vs. Allan Fung (R)
RI-1: Allen Waters (R) vs. David Cicilline (D)
TX-34: Mayra Flores (R) - Elected SPEL June 2022; general election Nov. 2022 against Vicente Gonzalez (D)
WA-4: Brad Klippert (R) challenging Dan Newhouse (R)
WV-2: David McKinley lost a redistricting race to fellow incumbent Alex Mooney
Special Elections 2022:
AK-0: Sarah Palin (R) vs. Al Gross (Independent)
CA-22: Connie Conway (R) replaced Devin Nunes on June 7.
FL-20: Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D) replaced Alcee Hastings on Jan. 11.
MN-1: vacancy left by Jim Hagedorn (R), deceased Feb. 17; SPEL on August 9.
NE-1: Jeffrey Fortenberry (R) Resigned on March 31, after being convicted; Mike Flood (R) in SPEL on June 28.
NY-19: Marc Molinaro (R) running for SPEL Aug. 23 for seat vacated by Antonio Delgado (D), now Lt.Gov.
TX-34: Mayra Flores (R) SPEL June 14 for seat vacated by Filemon Vela Jr. (D)
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