Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety News Roundup


News Roundup

  • Attend the upcoming free webinar, Legislative Response Confronting Domestic Violence, this Friday, June 23 at 2 p.m. ET. Learn about the changes states have proposed on the treatment of domestic violence in areas from employment to criminal justice to education, and how states are updating their statutes to match changes in law since their original enactment.
  • Register for the Legislative Summit in Boston, Aug. 6-9. View the Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee agenda and check back often for updates on speakers. See you there!
  • Allison Lawrence is the new Denver staff to the committee. Alison has worked in the Criminal Justice Program for 10 years and takes over for Donna Lyons who retired earlier this year. She looks forward to working with the committee in her new capacity!
  • The DEA just released new guidance for first responders on all types of fentanyl. A few law enforcement officers have recently overdosed and have had to be revived simply because they touched or aspirated some form of fentanyl. The new guidance, including a briefing guide and a video that can be downloaded, can be found here. Additionally, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also just delivered remarks on the new guidance yesterday. Those are here.
  • The Supreme Court will decide (in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute) whether federal law allows states to remove people from the voter rolls if the state sends them a confirmation notice after they haven't voted for two years, they don't respond to the notice and then don't vote in the next four years. The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) says that roll maintenance procedures "shall not result in" people being removed from the polls for failure to vote. The Help America Vote Act modified the NVRA to say that states may remove voters if they don't respond to a confirmation notice and don't vote in the next two federal election cycles. The Sixth Circuit struck down Ohio's scheme, reasoning that it "constitutes perhaps the plainest possible example of a process that 'result[s] in' removal of a voter from the rolls by reason of his or her failure to vote." The lower court held that the problem with Ohio's scheme is that the "trigger" for someone being removed from the voter rolls is their failure to vote.
  • State and Local Governments Win Excessive Force Police Case. In a unanimous opinion in County of Los Angeles v. Mendez the Supreme Court rejected the "provocation rule," where police officers using reasonable force may be liable for violating the Fourth Amendment because they committed a separate Fourth Amendment violation that contributed to their need to use force. Police officers entered the shack Mendez was living in without a warrant and unannounced. Mendez thought the officers were the property owner and picked up the BB gun he used to shoot rats so he could stand up. When the officers saw the gun, they shot him resulting in his leg being amputated below the knee. The Ninth Circuit concluded that the use of force in this case was reasonable. But it concluded the officers were liable per the provocation rule—the officers brought about the shooting by entering the shack without a warrant. (The Ninth Circuit granted the officers qualified immunity for failing to knock-and-announce themselves.) The Ninth Circuit also concluded that provocation rule aside, the officers were liable for causing the shooting because it was "reasonably foreseeable" that the officers would encounter an armed homeowner when they "barged into the shack unannounced." The court rejected the provocation rule noting that its "fundamental flaw is that it uses another constitutional violation to manufacture an excessive force claim where one would not otherwise exist." The court also rejected the Ninth Circuit's causation analysis because it focused on what might foreseeably happen as a result of the officers' failure to knock-and-announce instead of their failure to have a warrant.
  • The president released his 2018 budget request the week of May 22. While it is generally agreed that this budget is "dead on arrival" in Congress, it is instructive in that it outlines the president's policy priorities. Here's how federal criminal justice and homeland security funding that impacts states funding:
Department of Homeland Security: $44.1 Billion (+7 percent)
  1. Increases funding of the department by $2.8 billion, or 7 percent, over the 2017 enacted level.
  2. Increases funding for cybersecurity by $594 million to $971 million.
  3. Provides $1.6 billion in funding for a border wall.
  4. Provides $2.1 billion for various grant program to assist states in preventing and recovering from acts of terrorism and other "catastrophic events."
  5. Provides $7.4 billion in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund to assist states in dealing with domestic major disasters and emergencies, a decrease of $23 million from the FY 2017 annualized continuing resolution.
  6. Eliminates or reduces state and local grant funding by $667 million for programs administered by FEMA that are either unauthorized by the Congress, such as FEMA's Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program, or that must provide more measurable results and ensure the federal government is not supplanting other stakeholders' responsibilities, such as the Homeland Security Grant Program. For that reason, the budget also proposes establishing a 25 percent non-federal cost match for FEMA preparedness grant awards that currently require no cost match.
  7. Increases funding for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by 29.4 percent. Total appropriation of $7.9 billion reflects an increase from $6.1 billion:
  • $975.5 million for border security and surveillance.
  • $100 million for 20,000 new border patrol positions.
  • $185.9 million for expanded ICE enforcement activities.
  • $484 million for transportation costs of detainees.
Department of Justice $27.7 Billion (-4 percent) Decreases funding for the department by $1.1 billion, or 4 percent, compared to the 2017 enacted level.

State and local law enforcement funding:

  1. Decreases funding for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants Program from $385.5 million to $332.5 million.
  2. Eliminates the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which was funded at $193 million in 2017.
  3. Decreases funding of the Second Chance Act/Offender Re-entry from $59 million to $48 million.
  4. Retains $45 million in funding for the Victims of Trafficking program.
  5. Proposes $20 million in new funding for a Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program.
  6. Increases funding for Concerns of Police Survivors from $201 million to $218 million.
  7. Increases funding for Violence Against Women from $182 million to $215 million.
  8. Decreases funding for Juvenile Justice from $270 million to $230 million.

There are also provisions in the budget proposal that seek to expand the definition of sanctuary jurisdictions and require states and localities to comply with Department of Homeland Security detainers that are currently not in statute.

  • NCSL sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives asking congress to respect state authority to regulate medicinal marijuana by supporting appropriations language that would respect state laws governing the regulation of hemp and medicinal marijuana.

Please contact your Committee staff, Alison Lawrence in Denver and Susan Parnas-Frederick in D.C., with any questions or needs.