Reps. Ted Deutch, Tom Rooney Introduce Bipartisan National Criminal Justice Commission Act

Today, U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Tom Rooney (R-FL) announced the bipartisan introduction of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2015. H.R. 2230 would establish a bipartisan, blue-ribbon National Criminal Justice Commission charged with reviewing the challenges we face at the federal, state, and local levels and issuing recommendations to Congress on strengthening public safety and law enforcement, addressing mass incarceration and fiscal sustainability, and improving fairness and accountability. Given that it has been fifty years since President Lyndon Johnson created the 1965 Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, this legislation is presents Congress with an opportunity to take a commonsense and bipartisan step toward restoring faith in our criminal justice system at a time when the confidence of many Americans has been tested. 

“Recent events across our country have made evident what civil rights leaders, law enforcement groups, and legal advocates have been saying for years: a comprehensive review of America’s criminal justice system is long overdue,” said Congressman Ted Deutch, a senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee. “If we as Americans are serious about tackling issues like mass incarceration, building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and promoting a justice system guided by basic fairness and equality under the law, then it’s time the House and Senate worked together to establish a new National Criminal Justice Commission. A bipartisan, comprehensive examination of the many challenges we face is the first step toward reforming our laws and creating a more sustainable and more accountable criminal justice system.” 

“We need to take a careful look at our criminal justice system and determine what is working, and what is not, to make our country safer, support our law enforcement community, and ensure our laws are fair and just,” Rooney said. “I am particularly concerned about the recent explosion in the size and scope of the federal criminal code. Many of the new offenses of the last few decades are overly broad, have inadequate criminal-intent requirements, or were created by pens of bureaucrats rather than acts of Congress. Others are blatant examples of federal overreach on crimes that should be left to the states. A Commission can highlight these disturbing trends, and force Congress to begin the process of reducing over-criminalization, protecting Americans from unjust punishment, and making our criminal code more streamlined and cost-effective.” 

The National Criminal Justice Commission Act was recently introduced with bipartisan support in the United States Senate by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). H.R. 2230 and S. 1119 would create a 14-member, bipartisan panel of Presidential and Congressional appointees, including experts on law enforcement, criminal justice, victims’ rights, civil liberties and social services, to complete an 18-month, comprehensive review of federal, state, local and tribal criminal justice systems and make recommendations for evidence-based reforms. The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2015 is supported by a broad coalition of criminal justice and legal advocacy organizations, such as the Fraternal Orders of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the NAACP.