Cohen: Congress Must Act to End Racial Profiling

April 22, 2015
Press Release

[WASHINGTON, DC] – In the wake of a string of national tragedies related police-involved violence, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) announced that he is an original cosponsor of the End Racial Profiling Act, legislation introduced in both the House and the Senate today to support a comprehensive federal commitment to healing the rift caused by racial profiling and to restore public confidence in our nation’s criminal justice system. The End Racial Profiling Act is designed to enforce the constitutional right to equal protection under the law by changing the policies and procedures underlying the practice of profiling. 

“From the biased use of ‘stop and frisk’ policies to the impact of unfair mandatory minimum sentences on minority communities, there is widespread evidence that racial disparities pervade our criminal justice system,” said Congressman Cohen. “As the author of the first and only Congressional apology for slavery and Jim Crow-era laws, I know just how much work Congress must do to address the problems that undermine confidence in the system and threaten the cause of justice. Injustices like racial profiling cannot continue in a society that holds fairness and equality in high regard. I am proud to join my friends Congressman John Conyers and Senator Ben Cardin in sponsoring legislation to help end it.”

The End Racial Profiling Act is designed to eliminate the well-documented problem of racial, ethnic, religious, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and national origin profiling.  First, the bill provides a prohibition on racial profiling, enforceable by declaratory or injunctive relief.  Second, the bill mandates training on racial profiling issues for Federal law enforcement agencies and data collection on all routine or spontaneous investigatory activities through a standardized Department of Justice procedure.  Third, the Department is authorized to provide grants for the development and implementation of best policing practices, such as early warning systems, technology integration, and other management protocols that discourage profiling.  Finally, the Attorney General is required to provide periodic reports to assess the nature of any ongoing discriminatory profiling practices.

Congressman Cohen authored H.Res.194, the first and only Congressional apology for slavery and Jim Crow laws, which passed the House of Representatives in 2008. Last year, the Congress also introduced two bills, the Justice Integrity Act and the Byrne/JAG Program Accountability Act, to help address, reduce, and prevent racial disparities in the United States’ criminal justice system. The Congressman’s bills were aimed at identifying racial and ethnic disparities, examining their causes, and developing plans for reducing or eliminating those unjustified disparities wherever they are found.