Chauvin Verdict is Satisfying, But Now We Need to Pass Real Criminal Justice Reform Legislation
The verdicts in the trial of Derek Chauvin are satisfying as the evidence of guilt was overwhelming. However, the nation will face many similar tragedies unless we use the lessons learned to pass criminal justice reform legislation to address the underlying bias in the current system. Former President Obama made that point yesterday in response to the verdict.
CNN: "While today's verdict may have been a necessary step on the road to progress, it was far from a sufficient one. We cannot rest. We will need to follow through with the concrete reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system."
Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam with a Democratic majority in the legislature has been a leader on such reforms, limiting when police can use chokeholds, requiring officers to intervene in excessive force incidents, legalizing marijuana possession, ending capital punishment, and creating mental-health crisis response teams to co-respond with police.
Other states and municipalities have passed similar legislation and reforms to limit the kind of force officers can use on civilians, expand the use of body cameras, increase transparency in excessive force investigations, and ban no-knock warrants. However, reform legislation efforts lost steam as the election unfolded last Fall and there is much more to do.
Yesterday President Biden, speaking in response to the George Floyd murder verdict, called on the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that seeks to increase police accountability and prevent problem officers from moving from one department to another. The bill passed the House of Representatives in March.
And, to bring about real change, to root out inequities, we need to reform both policing and the criminal justice system. But we can't stop there. We must also rethink punishment and incarceration and fully support mental health and drug addiction initiatives. Both are woefully underfunded. Real systemic change may take decades, but if George Floyd's death is to mean anything, it should be a constant reminder of why we must act, why we can't just kick it down the road like we have so many other problems.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content