Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “As Attorney General, Jeff Sessions actively undermined voting rights and civil rights. Sessions has a horrific record when it comes to protecting the individual rights of American citizens, and I expressed my serious concerns with him at … READ MORE
Criminal Justice Reform
The American criminal justice system is fundamentally broken, and I believe we must dramatically change the way we handle criminal justice in the United States. Time has shown that the well-meaning reforms of the past have failed, and are responsible for the disproportionately high levels of incarceration for non-violent offenses in communities of color. The effect has not been increased safety, but perpetuation of cycles of poverty and families being torn apart.
I believe the justice system must balance the need to protect the innocent and ensure that only the guilty are held responsible, but that we must also move from a retributive justice system to a rehabilitative one that reintegrates those who have served their time back into our community.
As a former prosecutor, I understand the immense and important job taken on by law enforcement officers, prosecutors, public defenders and defense attorneys, judges, and corrections officers. Each plays a vital role in our justice system, and in keeping our communities safe. However, each also has the added responsibility of ensuring the they are enforcing and protecting the rule of law equally and fairly.
We have an opportunity to make our justice system a model of fairness and justice, that is why I have supported legislation that would end racial profiling, eliminate over-prosecution of minor offenses, promote the effective use of Body Worn Cameras for law enforcement, limit federal mandatory minimum sentences for drug sentences, increase funding for civil legal aid, and help people re-enter society once they have served their time.
Criminal justice reform will not only make our justice system more fair and end the cycle over over-incarceration in communities of color, but it would also save taxpayers money.
Adam’s work on Criminal Justice Reform:
- Co-sponsored the SAFE Justice Act, which would reduce over prosecution for minor offenses, create drug treatment, mental health, and veterans’ treatment courts at the federal level, and allow federal judges to bypass mandatory minimum sentences.
- Supported President Obama’s Executive Action to “Ban the Box,” which would stop federal agencies and contractors from asking about an applicants’s criminal history, helping those who have served their time build a career.
- Co-sponsored the End Racial Profiling Act, which would prohibit law enforcement from engaging in racial profiling, and would also allow people harmed by racial profiling to have the right to file a lawsuit.
- Co-sponsored the CAMERA Act, which would provide federal grants to law enforcement agencies for the purchase and safe use of body worn cameras and video storage.
- Co-sponsored H.R. 3227, the Justice is Not For Sale Act, which would end all private prison contracts at the federal, state, and local levels.
- Served from 1993-1995 as a prosecutor for the City of Seattle, focusing on drunk driving and domestic violence cases.