Press Releases

Congressman Smith Votes to Support Youth Opportunity and Improvements to Our Juvenile Justice System

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement after voting for the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act, bipartisan legislation passed by the House of Representatives today:

September 22, 2016

“Today, I voted in support of H.R. 5963, the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act of 2016. Led by Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Ranking Member Bobby Scott of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, this legislation reauthorizes and strengthens the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to help state and local leaders better educate and rehabilitate at-risk youth and juvenile offenders. These long-overdue reforms provide direction and support for necessary juvenile justice system improvements.

“I applaud Ranking Member Scott for his leadership on this critical issue confronting young people across the United States. Rep. Scott’s call for reforms that are ‘smart,’ not ‘tough,’ on juvenile crime will provide the building blocks for a brighter future for all of our youths. Past reforms of our justice system intended to keep our communities safer have resulted in disproportionately high incarceration rates among youth of color, split families apart and helped to perpetuate cycles of poverty. We must do more to invest in the future of our nation, and this bipartisan legislation takes a meaningful step towards truly reforming our juvenile justice system.

“Specifically, H.R. 5963 includes provisions to ensure the continuity of young people’s education while incarcerated, provides clear guidance and directions for state and local governments on how to reduce racial and ethnic disparities among incarcerated youth, and extends protections for children detained in the juvenile and adult justice systems. The bill amends four core mandates of the JJDPA by instituting evidence-based prevention and intervention programs specifically designed to reduce juvenile delinquency. 

“Comprehensive criminal justice reform is long overdue, and I continue to call for specific improvements to our fundamentally flawed system to ensure that all of our children grow up in a more just society. By passing the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act of 2016, we are giving at-risk youth a second chance, and providing all children the opportunity to achieve a lifetime of success. The education, safety and prevention reforms this bill creates are a critical step in ending the school-to prison-pipeline. With bipartisan commitment to expanding opportunities, we can continue to work towards a justice system that is truly fair and effective.”

Congressman Smith Honors Veterans Service with First Annual Veterans History Project

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement following his first annual participation in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project:

September 12, 2016

“Our veterans have served this nation bravely and heroically. We owe these men and women an enormous debt of gratitude and respect. On August 31st, my office had the honor of hosting our first Veterans History Project (VHP) event at the Nisei Veterans Center in Seattle. The VHP’s mission is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American veterans so that future generations may hear directly from former servicemembers and better understand their unique stories, and selfless sacrifice. Nisei Veterans have contributed to our region’s history, and continue to play a critical role in educating future generations on the history of our country. The rich history of the Nisei Veterans provided a welcoming and inspiring space for those participating and sharing their stories. The VHP event was also made possible with the generosity of cadets from the local Civil Air Patrol squadron, who volunteered to assist in conducting interviews throughout the day’s event, as well as members of senior leadership from the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee.   

“At the event, I had the privilege to speak about the significance of our veteran’s service, as well as the importance of future generations being offered this unique opportunity to learn from these very personal stories.  The event showcased a presentation of previously recorded oral histories from Ret. General Peter Chiarelli and Ret. Major General Tim Lowenberg, both Northwest natives and national veteran leaders in the Puget Sound region. The diverse ages and backgrounds of the veterans who participated in the VHP will provide a powerful contribution to the permanent collections of the Library of Congress – one that is truly reflective of our region’s diverse history.”

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My office will be recording oral histories from veterans in our community on a rolling basis throughout the year. Interested community members can contact my Renton, District office at 425.793.5180 and visit my website for further information on how to participate in the VHP: https://adamsmith.house.gov/veterans-history-project

Smith Statement in Honor of Labor Day

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in recognition of Labor Day:

September 5, 2016

“Each Labor Day, we celebrate the contributions of the men and women of the American labor movement. This annual tribute to the achievements of America's workers recognizes the impact of labor unions on the creation and sustainability of a strong middle class. As the son of a ramp serviceman at SeaTac Airport, I have seen firsthand the importance of investing in the American worker to ensure that all members of our society are given the opportunity to work toward achieving the American Dream. 

“The social and economic contributions of the labor movement have been critical in raising the minimum wage, supporting education and workforce training programs, and providing living wage jobs for our working families. The American labor movement has long been fighting to expand broad-based prosperity for our nation, and will continue to play a role in building a strong future for generations to come.”

 

Smith Statement on Department of Homeland Security’s Decision to Establish Review of Privatized Immigration Detention

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson that the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) will conduct an evaluation of whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should follow the Department of Justice's recent decision to terminate its contracts with privately operated prisons:

August 30, 2016

“I am encouraged that Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has called for a review of current policies concerning the use of privately run detention centers. I believe they will find that these prisons are not the best our government can provide to ensure everyone's rights are protected. 

“At the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, I have witnessed firsthand the exploitative living conditions these detainees face and have advocated for immediate changes to our immigration detention operations. 

“The continual dysfunction within our detention system will need the leadership of Congress and a clear outcome from DHS internal review in order for concrete solutions to be instituted to protect the integrity of detainees and provide adequate oversight of our facilities. While the move to reevaluate the use of privately run facilities is indeed the correct one, this is only the first step towards rebuilding a system that is in dire need of comprehensive reform.” 

Smith Statement on Justice Department Decision to End Use of Private Prisons

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to the Justice Department announcement that it plans to phase out the use of private prisons:

August 18, 2016

“I applaud the Justice Department’s decision to end its use of private prisons. The recent Justice Department Inspector General findings highlights the safety and efficiency problems common in private contract facilities, and gave the Justice Department the information they needed to meaningfully reevaluate their longstanding use of private prisons. While the changes in our justice system will not take place overnight, this is a positive step forward. 

“The Department of Homeland Security should follow the Department of Justice and begin to systematically end its contracts with private detention centers. It is now more clear than ever that for-profit companies have no place in operating prison facilities, and we must move detainees with pending immigration cases that pose no risk to society out on to community-based Alternatives to Detention (ATDs). For those who pose too great a risk to release, we should have clearly established baseline standards for immigration detention centers that are owned and operated by the government. My bill, the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act, outlines acceptable standards and highlights the need for increased use of ATDs, as well as the elimination of the detention bed mandate. 

“To truly reform our broken criminal justice system and ensure we are building a more just society, it will take more than the closure of these facilities. Today marks a small victory, but one that must be followed with aggressive actions elsewhere in the government - including by Congress.”