End Racial Profiling Act Introduced in the House and Senate

This week, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Representative John Conyers (D-MI) introduced companion versions of the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) of 2013. The legislation is intended to prevent law enforcement officials from profiling individuals based on their race, ethnicity, religion and national origin.

The tragic death of Trayvon Martin and the jury decision in the Zimmerman case, has elevated the national conversation about racial profiling, the shortcomings within our criminal justice system and how the issues of race and reasonable suspicion are linked in the public’s minds.

ERPA addresses the problem of racial profiling in several ways. First, it would explicitly prohibit racial profiling, which would be enforceable by declaratory and injunctive relief. Second, the Department of Justice would be authorized to provide grants to law enforcement agencies to develop and implement best practices. Third, as a condition of receiving federal funds, law enforcement agencies will have to collect data on all routine and spontaneous investigatory activities that must be submitted to the Department of Justice. Finally, the Attorney General would be required to issue periodic reports to Congress assessing the current state of discriminatory racial profiling.

Since 2001, similar legislation has been introduced on four different occasions. Last year, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, held a hearing to which The Task Force submitted testimony. The hearing examined the disturbing presence of racial profiling in law enforcement and explored proposed solutions, including ERPA and closing loopholes in the U.S. Department of Justice’s racial profiling guidance.

The Task Force has long advocated for racial and economic justice by fighting end racial profiling by law enforcement officials to ensure that individuals are not prejudicially stopped, investigated, arrested or detained based on their race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.