The Congressional Black Caucus will focus on criminal justice reform, says its new chairman, Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), McClatchy Newspapers reports. “There is a well-founded mistrust between the African American community and law enforcement officers,” Butterfield said. “The statistics are clear. Video clips are clear. We recognize that the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities. Unfortunately, there are some officers who abuse the sacred responsibility to protect and serve by using excessive, and sometimes deadly force when a less severe response is warranted.”
The caucus will seek legislative action “to reverse this terrible trend,” Butterfield said. He added that the group would work to change sentencing laws, hold prosecutors to ethical standards, and ensure that defendants have competent lawyers. The caucus welcomed five new members, including Republican conservative Mia Love of Utah, and Democratic Reps. Alma Adams of North Carolina, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Brenda Lawrence of Michigan and Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands.