Monday, December 15, 2014

H.R. 1447 Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013

Congress just passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013. You can read the text of the bill here. It's supposed to get departments to regularly report data on deaths in custody, which is badly needed (it's shocking how hard it is to get that data).

In a public Facebook post, activist Leroy Moore says:
You know what I am going to say, Where is disability and GBLTQ? "A bill passed by both chambers of Congress and headed to President Barack Obama's desk will require local law enforcement agencies to report every police shooting and other death at their hands. That data will include each victim's age, gender and race as well as details about what happened."

Here's the key text of the law.

    (a) In General.--For each fiscal year after the expiration of the 
period specified in subsection (c)(1) in which a State receives funds 
for a program referred to in subsection (c)(2), the State shall report 
to the Attorney General, on a quarterly basis and pursuant to 
guidelines established by the Attorney General, information regarding 
the death of any person who is detained, under arrest, or is in the 
process of being arrested, is en route to be incarcerated, or is 
incarcerated at a municipal or county jail, State prison, State-run 
boot camp prison, boot camp prison that is contracted out by the State, 
any State or local contract facility, or other local or State 
correctional facility (including any juvenile facility).
    (b) Information Required.--The report required by this section 
shall contain information that, at a minimum, includes--
        (1) the name, gender, race, ethnicity, and age of the deceased;
        (2) the date, time, and location of death;
        (3) the law enforcement agency that detained, arrested, or was 
    in the process of arresting the deceased; and
        (4) a brief description of the circumstances surrounding the  

Notice that  section 2 b) says at a minimum.

If we want to make sure that disability, sexuality, religion, class, and whatever other kinds of data is collected, we need to push the DoJ to require or compile such variables as they come in.

Because we do need that data. I was trying to write a sentence saying the number of people with disabilities killed by police over the last year, or last five years, or whatever. While I know how many cases I have, and I know specific studies in, say, Maine and New Mexico, we just don't have that data.

And data feeds policy.

And policy feeds change (as does organization, demonstration, direct action, and so much more).

We need the data.