Press Releases

Smith Statement on United Nations Working Group Ruling in Nestora Salgado Case

Congressman Adam Smith issued the following statement on the recent United Nations Working Group Ruling in Nestora Salgado’s case and his continued efforts to advocate for her release:

February 4, 2016

“On February 1, 2016, the case of Renton resident Nestora Salgado received long overdue legitimacy from the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. In their legal decision dated December 17, 2015 made public this week, the international panel of independent human rights experts announced their conclusion that Nestora’s continued detention by the Mexican government is illegal and arbitrary. The formal UN Working Group Report calls for Nestora’s immediate release. Nestora has been imprisoned for over two years, following an August 2013 arrest for her leadership in a community police group in her hometown of Olinalá in the state of Guerrero.

“Throughout Nestora’s imprisonment, I have urged for her release.  In August of 2014, I wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry to call attention to Nestora’s case and to alert the Department of State to the concerning abuses of human rights and due process Nestora has experienced throughout her detention.  Since that time, I have engaged with U.S. and Mexican government officials in hopes of securing Nestora’s release and advocating for her safety and well-being.

“As part of my continued calls for her freedom, in October 2015 I again wrote to Secretary Kerry advocating for Department of State assistance for the Salgado family and Nestora’s legal advocate Seattle University School of Law Professor Thomas Antkowiak in advance of hearings at the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.  The Department of State responded by attending the October 2015 hearings, meeting with the family, and continued engagement on Nestora’s case.

“My office has remained involved and in touch with the State Department and Professor Antkowiak in the wake of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission hearings.  After being notified of the UN decision, my office immediately contacted Professor Antkowiak and the Department of State to advocate for leveraging the recent decision for Nestora’s immediate release. 

“I am committed to working toward the safe return of Nestora to her family. The UN Working Group Report is further evidence that the Mexican government’s detention of Nestora is illegal and that she should be released immediately.  It is unacceptable for the Mexican government to continue to imprison Nestora, and I will remain involved and engaged on this critical issue until she is released.”

Congressman Smith Supports Federal Actions to Reform Our Nation's Criminal Justice System

Congressman Smith released the following statement in support of the President’s recent decision to ban solitary confinement for juveniles and non-violent offenders

February 2, 2016

“A functioning justice system must work to protect the innocent and simultaneously hold accountable and rehabilitate those who commit crimes. The President’s recently announced executive action reforms the federal prison system, following an extensive review by the Justice Department.  

“We can no longer perpetuate the problems of a broken criminal justice system that harshly condemns those who have offended and served their sentences to continued failure. The President’s announcement recognizes long-standing structural failures in our corrections system. Incarcerated individuals who are placed in solitary confinement—for months, even years at a time— can experience lasting psychological damage. The consequences of extended isolation are profound on the human psyche, especially when experienced at a young age, and greatly limit prospects for successful reintegration into society. The President’s action came on the same day that the United States Supreme Court recognized the danger and consequences of harsh sentences imposed on our youth.  In their January 25, 2016 ruling in Montgomery v. Louisiana, the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles previously sentenced to life without parole must be allowed to appeal for a lesser sentence.

“Comprehensive reforms to our system are long-overdue. While there is no single solution, I have outlined a roadmap of criminal justice reform initiatives at the federal level that begin to address the systemic inequities of our current system. I was an early cosponsor of legislation to study the use of solitary confinement, and determine best practices for federal prisons to follow. I support measures to provide sentencing reform and safety-valve programs, and better assist former inmates as they reenter society. It is critical that we reinforce initiatives such as “banning the box” on job applications to expand employment opportunities, as well as increased funding for low-income individuals to access legal services and help them navigate an incredibly complex judicial system. Washington State was an early advocate for reform, and the data from their reforms at the state level show that those who were placed in solitarily confinement had a 20-25% higher rate of recidivism. Leadership at the federal level is critical to ensure wider enactment of restorative justice programs like those spearheaded by Washington State.    

“The President has challenged our nation to seriously reflect on a system that has failed too many Americans. The Justice Department’s recommendations provide a framework for the use of solitary confinement, with the goal of working to provide opportunities for redemption rather than inflict harm. Congress must now join the President by supporting reforms that care for offenders humanely and provide dignity and a second chance to those who are rejoining and contributing to their communities.”

 

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Congressman Smith Statement on Hip Surgery

Congressman Adam Smith issued the following statement in advance of his corrective hip surgery scheduled for Tuesday, January 19, 2016:

January 18, 2016

“Tomorrow, I will undergo a hip replacement procedure to correct problems stemming from my October 2014 hip surgery.  In late 2014 and early 2015, I had two hip surgeries, one on each hip.  Over the last several months, I have encountered ongoing difficulties with my recovery from the first surgery, necessitating a further procedure.

“I look forward to a speedy recovery and to returning to Washington, D.C. and attending meetings and community events throughout the 9th District.   As I recuperate, I will continue to closely monitor legislative activity in the U.S. House, consistently submit for the Congressional Record how I would have voted on any legislation considered in the House, and maximize the number of in-district meetings I take while in Washington state. Throughout my recovery, my staff will remain engaged in the community and will continue to take meetings in D.C.

“Due to tomorrow’s procedure, and the medical concerns related to traveling, I will unavoidably miss votes in the U.S. House.  For every vote taken by the House during my absence, I am committed to ensuring that my constituents have access to the appropriate records so they know where I stand on the issues.  My position on each matter considered during my time away will appear in the Congressional Record and will be accessible through my congressional website.”

Congressman Smith Statement on Observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) today released the following statement in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

January 18, 2016

“Martin Luther King, Jr. has inspired generations of Americans to thoughtfully challenge inequality. Dr. King wisely advised that injustice at any level of society requires our attention, and his work continues to guide us as we collectively work to address injustices in our community and throughout the world.   

“Today, Dr. King’s legacy serves as a constant reminder that broad-based economic opportunity is necessary for our nation to continue to create the best and the brightest leaders. To achieve Dr. King’s vision, we must advocate for equitable access to education, take meaningful steps to fix our broken criminal justice system, provide affordable housing and transportation options and guarantee the right to vote for all Americans. By joining together as a nation to accomplish these common goals, we can truly honor Dr. King’s legacy as a civil rights leader and continue to encourage civic engagement among the diverse communities of our nation.” 

Smith Statement on the President's State of the Union Address

Washington D.C. – Congressman Smith released the following statement following President Obama’s State of the Union address:

January 12, 2016

“In his final State of the Union address, President Obama spoke of his leadership out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. His administration, together with partners in Congress, has advanced policies that grew our economy and created new living-wage jobs. With 14 million new private sector jobs created over the past 70 months, and the longest continued period of private sector job growth in our history, our nation is looking forward to the future with renewed hope. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I truly believe the President understands the responsibility the United States has as a global leader and that we must continue to call for inclusive governance around the world. The Administration has taken important executive actions on immigration, and recognizes the need to fully address immigration reform. I continue to call for this important action to be taken before the end of his term. To address climate change the Administration has taken significant steps to ensure the well-being of future generations.

“As the Representative for the Ninth Congressional District of Washington state, I am proud that our state has been a leader on many of the policy areas the President highlighted this evening. Washington state has been a leader in raising the minimum wage and combatting climate change. We have recognized the need for comprehensive background checks for gun sales and the importance of addressing mental health to keep our nation safe. We also celebrate that we are a nation of immigrants and refugees, and that our diversity continues to make us stronger.

“Tonight, as we turn our attention to the great deal of work that remains, I will be focusing on creating broad-based economic opportunity for all and addressing inequities in our society. We must expand access to education at all levels. Reforming our criminal justice system and increasing affordable housing and accessible transportation options are a necessity in making opportunities equitable for all. To keep families together and ensure the safety of our nation, we must enact comprehensive immigration reform. And as free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, we must recommit ourselves to guaranteeing the right to vote in a just electoral system for all Americans.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and with my colleagues in Congress to bring our country together and ensure that we make government work better for everyone.”