House passes CJS bill with some important amendments

There is always something going on in Congress.  The “do nothing” charge is false.  What that really means is “they’re not doing what I want.”

One big appropriations bill is called “CJS,” H.R. 2578, Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations ActWhen looking in the news about the bill, I found articles on marijuana, NASA, and as The Hill wrote

gun control, immigration, U.S.-Cuba relations, Guantánamo Bay and marijuana

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  opposed the bill saying

The House proposal significantly underfunds agencies, programs, and services that are critical to ensuring that the justice system works, and that the civil rights of all Americans are upheld.

Several notable amendments were passed, including


I am wondering if it is necessary to include FBI in this amendment, which prohibits NSA and CIA (but doesn’t mention FBI) from weakening encryption standards with NIST (see also here).  I mentioned NIST in my post on the iPhone encryption.

Representative Joaquin Castro introduced funding for police body cameras.  I sent him my article on TASER.

Representative Gwen Moore spoke on the floor of the House yesterday about an amendment to CJS regarding the case of Dontre Hamilton and how police treat mentally ill citizens

Amendment Offered by Ms. Moore

  Ms. MOORE. Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. Is there objection to the gentlewoman        offering the amendment at this point in the reading?
  There was no objection.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 34, line 19, after the dollar amount, insert 
     ``(reduced by $2,000,000)''.
       Page 42, line 24, after the dollar amount, insert 
     ``(increased by $2,000,000)''.
       Page 44, line 8, after the dollar amount, insert 
     ``(increased by $2,000,000)''.

  The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 287, the gentlewoman from Wisconsin and a Member opposed each will control 5     minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Wisconsin.
  Ms. MOORE. Mr. Chair, my amendment transfers $2 million into   the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act for  the purpose of expanding and improving police training to safely and appropriately respond to mentally ill individuals.
  Now, Mr. Chair, we have heard a lot lately in the news about   high profile police-involved shootings that have become a major  subject here around the country and here in Congress. Not        surprising to some of us, especially those of us who hail from   large urban cities, this is a widespread problem that has been   around for a while.
  But today, I am offering this amendment to highlight one       serious issue that I think should be a major part of our current national dialogue: ensuring that police have adequate training to identify persons with mental illness and to safely, when it is  possible, resolve encounters during a crisis.
  Mr. Chair, indulge me for a moment while I tell you a story    about a 31-year-old man in my home district of Milwaukee,        Wisconsin, who, unfortunately, is no longer with us today. His   name was Dontre Hamilton.
  Dontre, like many people in this country, suffered from a      mental illness. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia 1 year prior to the incident and had been off his medication due to an        insurance issue.
  On April 30 of last year, Dontre was taking a nap on a public  park bench when employees of a nearby Starbucks called the       police. Two police officers came and did a wellness check and    left the scene, discerning that Mr. Hamilton was no threat to himself, nor to anyone in the park or the public.
  Soon thereafter, yet another call came from the Starbucks      employee because this gentleman was sleeping on the public park  bench. Another police officer, Officer Manney of the Milwaukee   Police Department, arrived and started to pat down Dontre. This  pat-down turned into a struggle, and Officer Manney pulled out   his baton to help him subdue Mr. Hamilton.
  The struggle escalated, and Dontre got control of the baton and swung it at Officer Manney. This caused Officer Manney to draw  his firearm and shoot 14 bullets into Dontre Hamilton.
  Officer Manney was terminated for conducting a pat-down in 
contravention of his training on dealing with mentally ill individuals but faced no charges in the death of Dontre Hamilton.
  Mr. Chair, perhaps this tragedy could have been prevented. Too often, our mental health infrastructure is woefully inadequate   for many Americans. A lack of treatment can turn a treatable mental illness into a severe debilitating condition. Many can't hold a job or pay rent. 
Many end up homeless on the streets. In fact, more than 124,000  of the 610,000 homeless people in the United States suffer from a severe mental illness.
  As a result of many failures in our system, our Nation's policeofficers have de facto become our country's first responders to  crisis calls, including those individuals experiencing mental    illness. Too often these calls, many intended to be out of       concern  for the individual in crisis, become a tragic fatality.
  As we know, mentally ill persons are not generally dangerous,  Mr. Chair. In fact, they are actually more likely to become      victims themselves than actual perpetrators of violence. Many of these tragic encounters could be prevented if police officers are trained and follow proper procedures.
  The Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act is an important Federal initiative and tool that will help us bridge this gap. This law established a grant program called the       Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program which helps      States and localities develop collaborative approaches to dealing with the intersection of criminal justice and mental health     systems.
  One of the authorized grant uses under the program is training to police officers for exactly these purposes: to safely respond to crisis calls and limit the chance of a tragic and often preventable consequence.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition,   but I am not opposed to the amendment.
  The Acting CHAIR (Mr. Woodall). Without objection, the         gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 minutes.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. CULBERSON. The gentlewoman has a good amendment, and I want to encourage Members to support it.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by  the gentlewoman from Wisconsin (Ms. Moore).
  The amendment was agreed to.
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4 Responses to House passes CJS bill with some important amendments

  1. Pingback: Amendment to CJS to reform police interactions with mentally ill like Dontre Hamilton | The Biased Reporter

  2. Pingback: House amendments for police reform | The Biased Reporter

  3. Pingback: Body Camera News | The Biased Reporter

  4. Pingback: Update on shooting of Dontre Hamilton by Officer Christopher Manney | The Biased Reporter

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