Rep. Cohen looks to reduce racial disparities in criminal justice system

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) this week re-introduced two bills aimed at reducing and preventing racially based outcomes in the criminal justice system.

"From the biased use of 'stop and frisk' policies to the impact of unfair mandatory minimum sentences on minority communities, there is widespread evidence that racial disparities pervade our criminal justice system," Cohen said. "These disparities undermine confidence in the system, threaten the cause of justice, and cannot continue in a society that holds fairness and equality in high regard."

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Cohen's Justice Integrity Act would establish new advisory groups in all 10 of the nation's judicial districts that would be tasked with examining racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and making recommendations for how to eliminate them.

The U.S. Attorney General would have to examine the recommendations of the 10 groups, and come up with a plan of action based on these recommendations. The Attorney General would also have to submit this plan of action to Congress.

His second bill would require states that receive funding from a federal justice program to implement their own plan to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

These plans would have to include more monitoring of racially based outcomes, developing plans to reduce these outcomes, and public reporting each year on their effort.

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