Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 1447) to encourage States to report to the Attorney General certain information regarding the deaths of individuals in the custody of law enforcement agencies, and for other purposes.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013''.
SEC. 2. STATE INFORMATION REGARDING INDIVIDUALS WHO DIE IN THE CUSTODY OF LAW ENFORCEMENT.
(a) In General.--For each fiscal year after the expiration of the period specified in subsection (c)(1) in which a State receives funds for a program referred to in subsection (c)(2), the State shall report to the Attorney General, on a quarterly basis and pursuant to guidelines established by the Attorney General, information regarding the death of any person who is detained, under arrest, or is in the process of being arrested, is en route to be incarcerated, or is incarcerated at
a municipal or county jail, State prison, State-run boot camp prison, boot camp prison that is contracted out by the State, any State or local contract facility, or other local or State correctional facility (including any juvenile facility).
(b) Information Required.--The report required by this section shall contain information that, at a minimum, includes--
(1) the name, gender, race, ethnicity, and age of the deceased;
(2) the date, time, and location of death;
(3) the law enforcement agency that detained, arrested, or was in the process of arresting the deceased; and
(4) a brief description of the circumstances surrounding the death.
(c) Compliance and Ineligibility.--
(1) COMPLIANCE DATE.--Each State shall have not more than 120 days from the date of enactment of this Act to comply with subsection (a), except that--
(A) the Attorney General may grant an additional 120 days to a State that is making good faith efforts to comply with such subsection; and
(B) the Attorney General shall waive the requirements of subsection (a) if compliance with such subsection by a State would be unconstitutional under the constitution of such State.
(2) INELIGIBILITY FOR FUNDS.--For any fiscal year after the expiration of the period specified in paragraph (1), a State that fails to comply with subsection (a), shall, at the discretion of the Attorney General, be subject to not more than a 10-percent reduction of the funds that would otherwise be allocated for that fiscal year to the State under subpart 1 of part E of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3750 et seq.), whether characterized as
the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Programs, the Local Government Law Enforcement Block Grants Program, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, or otherwise.
(d) Reallocation.--Amounts not allocated under a program referred to in subsection (c)(2) to a State for failure to fully comply with subsection (a) shall be reallocated under that program to States that have not failed to comply with such subsection.
(e) Definitions.--In this section the terms ``boot camp prison'' and ``State'' have the meaning given those terms, respectively, in [Page: H8048]
section 901(a) of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3791(a)).
(f) Study and Report of Information Relating to Deaths in Custody.--
(1) STUDY REQUIRED.--The Attorney General shall carry out a study of the information reported under subsection (b) and section 3(a) to--
(A) determine means by which such information can be used to reduce the number of such deaths; and
(B) examine the relationship, if any, between the number of such deaths and the actions of management of such jails, prisons, and other specified facilities relating to such deaths.
(2) REPORT.--Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall prepare and submit to Congress a report that contains the findings of the study required by paragraph (1).
SEC. 3. FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT DEATH IN CUSTODY REPORTING REQUIREMENT.
(a) In General.--For each fiscal year (beginning after the date that is 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act), the head of each Federal law enforcement agency shall submit to the Attorney General a report (in such form and manner specified by the Attorney General) that contains information regarding the death of any person who is--
(1) detained, under arrest, or is in the process of being arrested by any officer of such Federal law enforcement agency (or by any State or local law enforcement officer while participating in and for purposes of a Federal law enforcement operation, task force, or any other Federal law enforcement capacity carried out by such Federal law enforcement agency); or
(2) en route to be incarcerated or detained, or is incarcerated or detained at--
(A) any facility (including any immigration or juvenile facility) pursuant to a contract with such Federal law enforcement agency;
(B) any State or local government facility used by such Federal law enforcement agency; or
(C) any Federal correctional facility or Federal pre-trial detention facility located within the United States.
(b) Information Required.--Each report required by this section shall include, at a minimum, the information required by section 2(b).
(c) Study and Report.--Information reported under subsection (a) shall be analyzed and included in the study and report required by section 2(f).
Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the further consideration of House Joint Resolution 59.
Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
The Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2000 directed the Bureau of Justice Statistics within the Department of Justice to collect data on the deaths that occur at two important stages in the criminal justice system: first, deaths that occur in the process of arrest or during the transfer after arrest; and, second, deaths that occur in jails and prisons. The provisions of that act expired in December 2006.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 885 inmates died in the custody of local jails in 2011. This is the lowest number of jail inmate deaths in the 12-year history of the Deaths in Custody Reporting program.
Nearly nine out of 10 State prisoner deaths were as a result of natural causes, the leading reason being cancer and heart disease. Although illness-related deaths have increased slightly in recent years, the homicide and suicide rates in State prisons have dramatically decreased over the last 25 years.
H.R. 1447 reauthorizes this data collection program and directs the Attorney General not only to collect the data, but also to study the data to determine how to reduce deaths in custody in the future. The legislation extends the reporting requirements to deaths that occur in Federal custody.
Although the Death in Custody Reporting Act expired in 2006, the Bureau of Justice Statistics has continued to collect this data. They provide a national resource for understanding mortality in the criminal justice system.
The collection of this data will help the Federal, State, and local governments examine the relationships between deaths in custody and the proper management of jail and prison facilities. It will also provide important information to Congress on any need to improve Federal custody procedures.
Because the Bureau of Justice Statistics has continued to collect the information even though the prior law has expired, this bill will not impose any new cost on the agency. Congress passed similar legislation in three Congresses with overwhelming bipartisan support.
I would like to thank Congressman Scott for introducing this legislation, and I would urge all my colleagues to support it.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of H.R. 1447, the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013. This bill would require State and Federal law enforcement agencies to report to the Department of Justice information about the deaths of individuals in their custody.
We have learned from history how useful this information can be. In the 1980s, there was increased focus on conditions in State and local jails and prisons and the problem of prisoners dying in custody. The interest in oversight of this issue was generated partially because of the rise of wrongful death cases brought in relation to these deaths.
Press reports in the 1990s concerning prison abuses and deaths of those incarcerated being attributed to suicide led Congress to develop legislation in response to this problem.
The Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2000 was enacted to require States to report quarterly to the Attorney General information regarding the death of any person in the process of arrest or who was otherwise in custody, including jails, prisons and juvenile facilities. The reports are brief, essentially stating who died and a brief description of what happened.
The law expired in 2006, which led to an effort to reauthorize substantially the same requirements on States and extend those requirements to the Federal agencies as well. And that is what H.R. 1447 would do.
With this statistical data, policymakers at the State, local, and Federal levels can make informed judgments about the appropriate treatment of prisoners and to develop ways to lower the prison death rate. This policy cannot be made if we don't have this information that the law requires.
In fact, since the focus on deaths in custody emerged in the 1980s and enactment of the law in 2000, reports showed significant declines in suicides and homicides for those in custody.
H.R. 1447 is a strong reaffirmation of the importance of requiring that States submit this information, and the bill expands the commitment to Federal law enforcement agencies as well.
The bill also requires the Attorney General to study the information the Justice Department receives and to issue a report to include a discussion of how the data may be used to reduce preventable deaths.
With the enactment of this legislation, we can make even more progress with respect to reducing preventable deaths of those in custody, which is surely an obligation of government when it incarcerates so many of its citizens.
This initiative has a history of strong bipartisan support, and I thank my colleagues from the other side of the aisle, especially the gentleman from Georgia, and my colleague from Virginia, the Judiciary Committee chairman, Bob Goodlatte, for supporting the bill in committee and bringing it to the floor today.
I urge my colleagues to support the bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the ranking member of the subcommittee, and I thank the manager and, as well, the full committee chairperson and the ranking member of the full committee.
I think it would not be inappropriate to acknowledge that many of us gathered in the Judiciary Committee to wish Congressman Mel Watt well, so I will do so now on the floor of the House.
I am supporting this bill and again offer my appreciation for the Crime Subcommittee's bipartisan efforts to look into our problem with criminalization at the start of the Congress. I am concerned that there are a number of issues that were not discussed, but this particular legislation is an important step, which I know that the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Scott) has worked on quite extensively.
The bill before us today, in essence, requires States that receive certain criminal justice assistance grants to report to the Attorney General on a quarterly basis certain information regarding the death of any person who is detained, arrested, en route to incarceration, or incarcerated in State or local facilities or at boot camp. H.R. 1447 also imposes penalties on States that fail to comply with such reporting requirements. The bill also requires the head of each Federal law enforcement agency
to report to the Attorney General annually certain information regarding the death of any person.
My focus is to indicate that this is a practical initiative. I personally know that in jurisdictions in Texas, we have had incidents where people have gone into the county jail for minimal violations of the law and came out in a body bag. It happened to a mother of two sons who lost her life because an infected knee was not taken care of. Or individuals who were ill, individuals who succumbed to inappropriate behavior by those who have charge over them. It is happening in jails and prisons across
This is a lifesaving initiative because many people will acknowledge that if you are incarcerated, even if you are there in our county jails before you are convicted--certainly, we recognize the criminal justice system, but it does not mean that you should lose your life.
However, as we come to the end of this first year of the 113th Congress, I know my colleagues would recognize as well that we are coming upon the 1-year anniversary of the tragic incident that occurred at Sandy Hook. There will be those who will be mourning this afternoon, holding a memorial to acknowledge the tragedy of the lives lost.
In this Congress, to our dismay, we have not been able to pass universal background checks, which could readily be on the floor of the House and be of value to those mourning mothers and fathers who now mourn 1 year later and ask the question: Why?
In addition, we have seen over the last year in many of our jurisdictions the excessive violence that has taken our young people through gun violence, through gangs, and other actions that would welcome this Congress exercising its authority on issues dealing with antiviolence, antibullying, of course, and, again, the ceasing of gun violence.
I look forward to establishing a commission in my community, responding to the incidents of 19 individuals being shot, two teenagers being killed, a young man from Jack Yates High School being killed, and another young man being shot in a park.
So as I rise to support this legislation, I would simply argue, as we move forward on this legislation, that there is work to be done, and I hope we can join together in a bipartisan manner to do so. I hope my colleagues also vote to support H.R. 1447.