U.S. Senate needs to debate the JUSTICE Act: Make calls now to Democrat Senators



By Michael Hernandez

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to debate the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act. No debate means no criminal reform legislation. This legislation sponsored by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) “is an important first step toward addressing the inequality that many black Americans encounter in law enforcement.”

Seven Democrat Senators are needed to vote with the 53 Republican Senators in favor of moving criminal reform forward. It’s time for Democrats to stop talking about criminal reform. Vote and begin the criminal reform debate. Right now, no Democrat Senator has voiced their support to begin debate on this bill which includes:

  • No racial profiling;
  • Funding for police cameras;
  • Banning or reducing chokeholds;
  • Reduction of no-knock warrants;
  • Making lynching a federal crime.

It appears that three issues cannot be resolved which may very well destroy efforts to move forward on criminal reform legislation:

  1. Agreement on extent or limitations on the civil immunity of a police officer.
  2. A debate between funding sources (Democrats want control of funding from Washington, D.C. while Republicans want to provide funding at the local agency level through grants compliance).
  3. An unwillingness to reach bipartisan agreement because any agreed legislation (through conference debate between the Senate and House) would be signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.

The JUSTICE Act follows on the heels of an Executive Order made by President Donald J. Trump on June 16th on Safe Policing for Safe Communities which included the following:

  • Requirements for certification and credentialing by state and local law enforcement agencies as it relates to training on use-of-force and de-escalation techniques as well as policies prohibiting use of chokeholds except in situations where deadly force is allowed by the law.
  • Information sharing between law enforcement agencies concerning criminal convictions of law enforcement officers and civil judgments for improper use of force.
  • Training officers to work with those individuals who suffer from impaired Mental Health, Homelessness and Addiction.
  • Legislation and grant programs assisting State and local law enforcement agencies.

President Trump’s Executive Order says: “As Americans, we believe that all persons are created equal and endowed with the inalienable rights to life and liberty. A fundamental purpose of government is to secure these inalienable rights. Federal, State, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement offices place their lives at risk every day to ensure that these rights are preserved.

“Law enforcement offices provide the essential protection that all Americans require to raise their families and lead productive lives. The relationship between our fellow citizens and law enforcement officers is an important element in their ability to provide that protection. By working directly with their communities, law enforcement officers can help foster a safe environment where we all can prosper.” 

What can you do to advance the JUSTICE Act?

Contact U.S. Senators and ask that they vote to begin debate on the JUSTICE Act.

The U.S. Senate switchboard is (202) 224-3121. A direct phone call can be made to the offices of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris by calling (202) 224-3553.


Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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