Senate Introduces Legislation to Ban Racial Profiling
Yesterday, the Senate introduced a bill that would ban the use of racial profiling by law enforcement.
The End Racial Profiling Act of 2011, sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin, D. Md.,
would forbid any law enforcement agency in the United States from
“relying, to any degree, on race, ethnicity, national origin, or
religion…except when there is trustworthy information, relevant to the
locality and timeframe, that links a person of a particular race,
ethnicity, national origin, or religion to an identified criminal
incident or scheme.” The bill also requires law enforcement agencies to
collect data on routine and spontaneous investigatory activities and
authorizes the Department of Justice to provide funds for training on
the proper and improper use of race, ethnicity, national origin and
religion in policing.
Civil rights groups have long supported legislation banning racial profiling based not only on its discriminatory nature but on the fact that it simply doesn’t work and wastes precious law enforcement resources.
“Racial profiling robs people of their dignity, undermines the integrity of our criminal justice system, and instills fear and distrust among members of targeted communities,” said Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “We know from experience that this is the wrong approach. Racial profiling makes us all less safe, by distracting law enforcement from the pursuit of individuals who pose serious threats to security.”
Research has consistently found that despite its ineffectiveness racial profiling is pervasive. A September 2010 Rights Working Group report, which was based on six public hearings held around the country, found that the use of racial profiling is pervasive. And a June 2009 report by Rights Working Group and the American Civil Liberties Union found that African-American and Latino drivers are more than twice as likely to be stopped, searched, or arrested by law enforcement officers as White drivers.
In March, The Leadership Conference released a report that documents how the consensus to end racial profiling has evaporated since 9/11, and how the use of racial profiling has expanded in the context of counterterrorism; fighting drug trafficking and other “street-level” crimes; and in efforts to enforce immigration laws, and called on Congress to pass ERPA.