05.12.16

Judiciary Committee Approves Leahy-Authored Bills To Improve Criminal Justice System, Support Police In Active Shooter Situations

. . . Renewal Of Leahy’s Groundbreaking Innocence Protection Act Facilitates Post-Conviction Use Of DNA Evidence

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, May 12, 2016) – The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved two bipartisan bills coauthored by Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to support law enforcement and improve the criminal justice system.  The panel’s action comes just two days after the House of Representatives approved another Leahy bill to reauthorize his Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program another five years. 

The POLICE Act approved by the Judiciary Committee Thursday is bipartisan legislation that allows law enforcement and medical personnel to use federal grant money for active shooter training, a dangerous scenario for both officers and their communities.  Leahy joined Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is the lead author of the legislation.

“We must support our state and local law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to keep us safe, from reauthorizing the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program, to supporting training programs so that officers are equipped to respond in active shooter situations.  With today’s strong vote in the Judiciary Committee, I urge the Senate to quickly take up and pass the POLICE Act,” Leahy said.

The Judiciary Committee on Thursday also approved bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Justice for All Act, a vital law that seeks to help ensure that the criminal justice system functions fairly.  The bill reauthorizes the Leahy-authored Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Grant Program, which facilitates post-conviction testing of DNA evidence that can exonerate the wrongly convicted and hold accountable the guilty.  Kirk Bloodsworth was the first person in the United States to be exonerated by DNA evidence after being sentenced to death.  Bringing the reauthorization bill to a successful committee vote has taken several years of work by Leahy and his allies in the current congressional climate.

“As a former prosecutor, I have great faith in our criminal justice system and in the men and women who have dedicated their lives to making it work,” Leahy said.  “We know that our justice system is imperfect.  Innocent people, like my friend Kirk Bloodsworth, are sometimes convicted, and even sentenced to death.  Dozens of exonerations made possible by the Justice for All Act are testament enough to its value.  It is past time for Congress to reauthorize this vital law to ensure that law enforcement and crime victims have the resources they need and that our justice system serves us all.”

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