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August 03, 2021
As people across the country continue to demand greater accountability for police misconduct, Revolving Door Project is working through its Police Accountability series to make clear how the Department of Justice can answer some of those calls. Part 1 of the series scrutinized the lack of federal, systematic data collection on law enforcement misconduct barring police accountability, explored pockets of power within the DOJ laying the groundwork for police oversight, and suggested 3 proposals. Part 2 of the Police Accountability series called for the relaunching of the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Arrest-Related Deaths program with a tested redesigned hybrid methodology. This piece introduces a second proposal wherein new conditions are placed on grants awarded out of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services’ (COPS) in an effort to leverage federal funds to actualize grassroots governed police oversight mechanisms.
August 02, 2021 | The Forge
One year ago, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd sparked an international rebellion against police violence. From this historic uprising, a longtime demand from the Black Lives Matter movement to end mass incarceration and police violence by defunding the police became a part of mainstream discourse. Local campaigns like #defundNYPD and national studies like Freedom to Thrive: Reimagining Safety and Security in Our Communities have fleshed out the meaning of defund, envisioning municipal and state budgets that invest in social safety nets over criminalization. But the executive branch ― the branch of government that creates the rules and regulations that guide the execution of federal law ― remains under-examined as a lever to effect systemic change.
July 07, 2021
Survivors of sexual assault were hurt to learn that the Department of Justice chose to continue to defend Donald Trump in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against the former president. Unfortunately, this is but one example of many in which Merrick Garland’s Justice Department has maintained flawed legal positions of the Trump administration which contravene not only the administration’s goals, but basic norms of American democracy. While the Attorney General may be motivated by an attempt to maintain the appearance of impartiality at the DOJ, the institutional goal must be to achieve just outcomes; deference to the Trump DOJ under the guise of impartiality is not only unwarranted, it is unjust. The flawed legal positions the Department has been adopting or maintaining in case after case contravene this goal. These positions have already had disastrous repercussions.
June 08, 2021 | The New Republic
On several key matters, Garland’s DOJ has concealed the full extent of Trump’s wrongdoing; kept thousands of immigrants from obtaining greencards, while flooding the immigration system with Trump-selected judges; expanded the scope of police power; ensured oil and gas profits for decades to come; and explicitly protected one of Trump’s most hated Cabinet secretaries from accountability.
May 28, 2021
The Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD) program — a federal tracking system to document cases of police homicide amid other manners of death emanating from the arrest process & the police interaction at large — held massive potential to further police oversight goals. Not only does re-establishing the ARD program require no legislation, but a template for a revised ARD program has been underway for over 6 years. The pilot study reconstructing the ARD’s methodology yielded a blueprint mapping out how the relaunched ARD program could operate by a hybrid system of open-source media mining and law enforcement agency surveying. Reactivating the ARD program in its contemporary version is one of the easiest & speediest proposals that the Biden administration & Garland’s DOJ can actualize on the matter of criminal justice reform — so, why aren’t they?
May 20, 2021
Policing, anti-black, anti-immigrant, ableist, and capitalist at its core, was designed to be outside of the scope of the law. The deployment of federal law enforcement officers in unmarked vans to abduct and detain Black Lives Matter protestors in Portland, Oregan during last summer’s national uprising over police killings demonstrates the extreme nature of rogue American policing. Police prerogative power, as the expression of the state’s legalized violence to enforce public docility at its will, is embedded in US governance. Couple that with qualified immunity, police contracts & unions, police bill of rights, and whatnot, law enforcement are shielded from disciplinary actions.
May 07, 2021
The DOJ's Civil Rights Division is Perilously Unstaffed, Slowing Biden Goals on Police Oversight and Reform
Throughout the 2020 campaign, in the wake of nationwide protests over the murder of George Floyd and other unarmed black people by police officers, Joe Biden committed himself to reforming law enforcement and combating police violence. But significant challenges loom in Biden’s quest for police reform. The federal government’s role in state and local law enforcement agencies is limited, and Biden’s ability to shepherd police reform legislation through Congress will be hampered by Republican opposition and disinclined moderate Democrats. Despite these obstacles, however, Biden is not powerless to make strides towards his campaign goals. Through his Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, he holds a significant power over local policing.
April 27, 2021
Amid a transition season of bruising battles between progressives and the old guard over Biden’s Cabinet picks, Merrick Garland for Attorney General was one choice that sparked relatively little controversy. Three months into Biden’s presidency, however, Garland is quickly shaping up to be the most consequentially bad Cabinet pick. On any number of important metrics — sweeping out holdovers from the Trump administration and reversing its positions, preventing corporate capture, and acting aggressively to advance the public interest — Garland is failing.
April 22, 2021
Last May, as the country first erupted into protests over George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Biden promised that he would deliver “real police reform” if elected president. The country’s eyes are on Minnesota again this week after a police officer in a Minneapolis suburb shot and killed Daunte Wright, sparking a new wave of protests. This time, Biden need no longer speak in hypotheticals; he is President. Will his administration deliver?