June 08, 2020


Legislation would hold police accountable for civil rights violations

Washington, D.C. – As protests against systemic racism and police brutality continue nationwide, Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) today introduced the Bend Toward Justice Act. The lawmakers’ bill would lower the standard of proof in criminal cases in which a person’s civil rights have been violated by changing the standard from “willfulness” to “recklessness,” removing barriers to justice in cases involving police brutality and excessive use of force. 

"It isn't enough to simply reform our police departments, we must fundamentally change the way we police in this country,” said Congressman Kennedy. “That begins by tearing down barriers to accountability when police officers violate the civil rights of Black and Brown Americans. By changing this standard from 'willfulness' to 'recklessness', we can start to bring justice within reach for any person targeted because of the color of their skin."

"There are good men and women in police departments across the nation, and there are brutal ones. Instances of police violence have undermined the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color throughout America, including in New York City,” said Congressman Jeffries. “Unless police are held accountable for their actions, brutality will continue. I am proud to join Representative Kennedy in introducing this important legislation that will help bring justice to victims of police violence."

Please click here for the full text of the Bend Towards Justice Act.