ACLU Responds to Jeff Sessions’ Move to End Accountability for Unconstitutional Policing

November 9, 2018 10:00 am

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WASHINGTON — In his final major move as attorney general, Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum significantly restricting the Department of Justice’s ability to hold local law enforcement accountable for unconstitutional policing.

The new policy all but eliminates consent decrees and settlement agreements, which are used to remedy systemic civil rights violations in local police departments and are integral to reducing harm to communities of color.

Kanya Bennett, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, had the following response:

“Jeff Sessions held true to his despicable ‘law and order’ agenda from start to finish. For close to two years, Sessions has used his powerful perch as attorney general to eliminate and pervert legitimate DOJ oversight and practices that promote trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“Now as his last act in office, and only days after Americans voted to advance criminal justice reform in states across the country, he has all but eliminated oversight of local law enforcement for abusive policing practices. This memo ensures police departments can operate with impunity, and will not be held accountable for trampling on constitutional rights of the people they are meant to serve. This is a legacy we cannot afford — least of all our Black and brown communities, subjected to police violence daily.

“DOJ’s actions here are long overdue for congressional oversight. Congress must urgently examine Sessions’ policies and practices regarding local police departments, and ensure the next attorney general is not giving a blank check to reverse the country’s progress toward fairer policing.”

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