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ACLU Pressures AG Nominee Garland to Commit to 'Racial Injustice' Reforms

ACLU Pressures AG Nominee Garland to Commit to 'Racial Injustice' Reforms
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By    |   Thursday, 18 February 2021 04:06 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union wants U.S. attorney general nominee Merrick Garland to spur "an overdue reckoning with racial injustice" by committing to certain criminal justice reform policies during next week's Senate confirmation hearing.

Garland, nominated by President Joe Biden, was expected to receive a Thursday letter from the ACLU asking him to guarantee his department would "adopt policies to build a more racially just criminal legal system," per The Hill.

Garland's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee was set to begin Monday.

The ACLU wanted Garland to make "on-the-record commitments" regarding mass incarceration, policing, COVID-19 in federal prisons, the federal death penalty, and solitary confinement.

"Your nomination comes at a moment when America faces an overdue reckoning with racial injustice that can start to be addressed with policies such as adopting a federal use-of-force standard, decriminalizing marijuana, and ending mandatory minimum sentences,” wrote Cynthia Roseberry, deputy director for policy at the ACLU justice division.

Roseberry said merely overturning Trump administration "tough-on-crime" policies would not be enough. Garland, if confirmed, was urged to instruct prosecutors not to issue mandatory minimums when alternate charges are available, calling it "perhaps the single most impactful action you can take" to reduce mass incarceration.

The ACLU urged Garland to commit to ending the war on drugs by trying to reduce and de-prioritize federal marijuana enforcement. He was encouraged to request a review by the Department of Health and Human Services on whether marijuana should continue to be classified as a Schedule 1 substance. 

Regarding policing reform, the ACLU called for the Justice Department to set "clear national standards" for all law enforcement agencies. Those standards would include "common-sense limitations and best practices" to decrease excessive use of force, and hold all law enforcement officials accountable.

With 222 federal inmate coronavirus deaths, according to the Bureau of Prisons, Roseberry condemned the Trump administration's handling of the COVID-19 crisis in federal prisons. She requested Garland commit to offer coronavirus vaccinations to people in custody. 

Garland also was encouraged to suspend federal executions and end the federal death penalty, which according to the ACLU was "plagued by racial bias, geographic arbitrariness, and unfairness." 

Solitary confinement in federal facilities should be stopped, according to the ACLU, noting the penalty "has exacerbated the virus spread."

The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on Garland's nomination March 1.

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The American Civil Liberties Union wants U.S. attorney general nominee Merrick Garland to spur "an overdue reckoning with racial injustice"...
aclu, merrick, garland, biden, attorney, general
Thursday, 18 February 2021 04:06 PM
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