Today, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing on “Reimagining Public Safety in the COVID-19 Era.” LDF’s written testimony highlights how strategies that address the root causes of violence by promoting economic stability, housing, access to health care, and violence interruption programs, are promising avenues for promoting safety in our communities, while increased policing is counterproductive to achieving safety. These programs are particularly necessary because they produce stability without the harms that result from police interactions, incarceration, and the destabilizing and long-lasting consequences of incarceration. In addition to making investments in communities that produce stability, there remains an urgent need to address barriers in the law to achieve police accountability, such as qualified immunity, Bivens and its progeny, the standard for prosecutions of officers who violate people’s constitutional rights in 18 U.S.C. § 242, and the complete lack of basic data about law enforcement officers’ exercise of authority in our communities. While some have blamed recent increases in homicides on the efforts of activists to reduce police budgets, the data does not support this, and the fate of Black communities should not rest on the popularity of a slogan. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute (TMI) recently conducted research analyzing homicide trends in 61 major U.S. Cities, drawing a sample from the 100 most populous cities in the U.S.5 According to TMI’s research, cities with higher levels of economic inequality experienced the higher increases in homicides, and cities which had enacted criminal justice reforms – through bail reform or progressive prosecutors – did not experience a greater than average increase in homicides.
Read the full written testimony here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.