Justice Department Dodges Meaningful Dialogue on Policing and Justice Reform

Contact: Rafael Medina, [email protected], 202.869.0390

WASHINGTON —The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and ten civil rights organizations have submitted a letter to Attorney General Barr expressing grave concerns about an exclusive convening on policing consent decrees and settlement agreements. Barr promised during his Senate confirmation hearing to meet with civil rights organizations regarding policing and justice reform. But the Department never responded to the request that followed from The Leadership Conference and other organizations for a meeting on these critical issues.

The letter outlines the collective fears of the groups regarding the Justice Department’s disregard for these vital civil rights tools.

“[Consent decrees] are vital to bringing state and local government officials in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws the Department is authorized to enforce. Accordingly, our critique of the Department’s guidelines as it relates to law enforcement civil agreements may also apply to agreements with other state and local entities,” the groups write in their letter. “Hearing from and incorporating the views of the organizations that specialize in protecting rights established by the Constitution and laws of the United States ensures the soundness and efficacy of the Department’s consent decree policies. Given the critical role that consent decrees play in addressing systemic constitutional and statutory violations in the justice system, we trust that you will appreciate the importance of including all organizations that have expertise and experience collaborating with law enforcement and communities to address patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing.”

In addition to The Leadership Conference, signatories to the letter include: The American Civil Liberties Union, The Drug Policy Alliance, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, The National Fair Housing Alliance, National Urban League, and UnidosUS.

To read the letter, click here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.