September 7, 2018
Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) release the following statement in response to H.R. 6691, the Community Security and Safety Act of 2018:
“Today I opposed H.R. 6691, the Community Security and Safety Act of 2018. This regressive bill will subject even more people to harsher treatment through an already broken criminal justice system. I steadfastly oppose it.
“This legislation was introduced less than a week ago in response to the Supreme Court’s April ruling in Dimaya vs. Sessions, which found the legal definition of “crimes of violence” to be unconstitutionally vague. H.R. 6691 creates an overly-expansive new definition of a “crime of violence.” Under this bill, what were previously relatively minor non-violent offenses now could carry significantly increased penalties and potential jail time. This legislation further exacerbates the injustices of our judicial system and moves the justice reform effort backwards.
“House Republicans did nothing for four months following the Court’s ruling and then, today, forced a vote on their hasty attempt to fix the deficiencies identified by the Court. Experts, community members, and local law enforcement officials were not consulted and no hearings were permitted, despite the far-reaching ramifications of this issue.
“We need to overhaul our judicial system by using evidence-based, state-tested reforms. We should be simplifying unnecessary federal regulatory crimes that lead to over-prosecution of minor offenses. I support legislation that ends racial profiling, promotes accountability, provides legal help to those in need, ends the use of private prisons, and restores fairness to our system of justice. We must continue to find alternative punitive and restorative steps for those who have committed offenses to help end the epidemic of mass incarceration.
“Additionally, we should work to reduce the recidivism rate in part by providing assistance to inmates who are returning home. There is broad support for legislation that helps with reentry and to provide equal employment opportunities. I support “banning the box” and prohibiting federal agencies and primary federal contractors from asking about criminal history on an initial employment application. We know that once community members leave prison, we must support education and rehabilitation efforts to ensure that people who will eventually return home from prison will do so equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to reintegrate into society.
“Bipartisan efforts and leadership at the federal level are essential to ensuring wider enactment of restorative justice programs, like those pioneered in Washington state. As we work towards common-sense reforms to our criminal justice system, I greatly value the continuing knowledge and opinions shared with me by constituents. I am committed to working with my colleagues to support protect civil liberties, increase transparency, and work to address bedrock issues that plague our criminal justice system.”