WASHINGTON—Today, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 44 groups sent a letter to the House of Representatives in opposition to H.R. 1039, the Probation Officer Protection Act. That bill, scheduled for a vote tomorrow, would broadly authorize federal probation officers to make warrantless arrests of parties not under their supervision.
“H.R. 1039 is unnecessary and dangerous, would inhibit successful reentry, and raises serious constitutional concerns,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference. “There are alternatives that protect probation officers while avoiding the pitfalls of an unnecessary and broad expansion of their arrest authority. We urge the House to vote no on this misguided legislation.”
The letter on H.R. 1039 states in part, “Probation officers’ role within our judicial system is to assist with a probationer’s transition back into society and report to the court on a probationer’s progress. To expand probation officers’ authority to allow probation officers to arrest—without a warrant—any person whom they claim is opposing or impeding their work in some way is unnecessary, likely to be dangerous, and would inhibit successful reentry. For the probation system to work, we need the cooperation of the third parties contemplated by this bill—family and friends—to assist probationers and individuals on supervised release as well as the probation officers visiting them. The threat of arrests of third parties in a probationer’s environment will erode the goodwill necessary for that vital cooperation.”
The letter to the House on H.R. 1039 is available 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 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.