Congressman Connolly is a member of a bipartisan group of lawmakers committed to addressing the complex challenges facing our nation’s dysfunctional criminal justice system. He supports strategies that reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and decrease corrections costs for state and local governments. He also supports permitting courts to reduce or amend mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent defendants.
Congressman Connolly is a cosponsor of a number of bills that will improve transparency and training in law enforcement, combat systemic racism, and build trust between communities and law enforcement:
- The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would address a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It includes measures to increase accountability for law enforcement misconduct, to enhance transparency and data collection, and to eliminate discriminatory policing practices. The bill establishes a framework to prohibit racial profiling at the federal, state, and local levels.
- The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, which would end the transfers of certain military equipment to local law enforcement. In 2017 President Trump fully restored the Pentagon’s excess property, or “1033 program.” Under this program, the Department of Defense transferred more than $6 billion in excess military equipment—often from war zones overseas—to our streets.
- The End Racial Profiling Act, which prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial profiling. This prohibition would be enforceable by declaratory or injunctive relief. The bill also mandates training on racial profiling issues as part of Federal law enforcement training, the collection of data on all routine or spontaneous investigatory activities that is to be submitted through a standardized form to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ will be authorized to provide grants for the development and implementation of best policing practices, such as early warning systems, technology integration, and other management protocols that discourage profiling.
- The Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act, which makes the use of chokeholds by law enforcement unlawful through an amendment to civil rights statute entitled “Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law.”
- The National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act, which would require federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to collect and publish data on the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers. DOJ must reduce by 10% the allocation of funds under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program for a state or local government that fails to substantially comply. There is no official tally or database of statistics on law enforcement use of deadly force. Bringing transparency and accountability to law enforcement and policing tactics will be an important step towards ending police brutality and helping us understand what policies may be needed to address it.
- The Police Training and Independent Review Act, which authorizes the DOJ to award grants to States that require law enforcement officers to be trained on ethics and racial bias, cultural diversity, and police interaction with the disabled, mentally ill, and new immigrants. The bill also requires an independent prosecutor to be appointed to investigate and prosecute an alleged offense involving the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer that results in a death or injury.
- The Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act requires a state or local government that receives funding under the JAG program to train law enforcement officers on de-escalation techniques and require law enforcement to use such techniques. DOJ may reduce the JAG allocation of a state or local government that fails to comply with the training requirement.
- The Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act is designed to provide incentives for local police departments to voluntarily adopt performance-based standards to minimize incidents of misconduct, improve operations and enhance community accountability.
- The Police Exercising Absolute Care for Everyone (PEACE) Act would change the use of force standard for federal officers to require that force must be necessary, as a last resort, to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury, and no reasonable alternatives were available, prohibit the gross negligence of an officer to precipitate the need for such force, and incentivize states, municipalities, and police departments to adopt a comparable standard by placing conditions on specified federal assistance.
As Chairman of Fairfax County, he has seen firsthand the value of modernizing criminal justice initiatives and remains a strong advocate of innovative reform programs, such as Veterans Treatment Courts. These courts provide eligible veterans with an alternative to jail, promote community collaboration, and can connect veterans with the programs and benefits they have earned. Fairfax County established the Commonwealth of Virginia's first such program, known as the Veterans Treatment Docket.