Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Newsletter is an NCSL electronic newsletter for Committee members and interested staff. This newsletter provides quarterly updates and links to the latest research and news highlights related to law, criminal justice and public safety.
Hopefully, you’ve already registered for NCSL’s 2018 Legislative Summit, July 30-Aug. 2 in Los Angeles. If not, register here and check out the Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety (LCJPS) Committee agenda. A few of these sessions include:
Summary: The U.S. Supreme Court has had a busy year of cases, many of which have meaningful implications for states. Attendees will explore these cases—from gerrymandering and elections to religious and gay rights, sports gambling and online sales taxes—and gain insider information about our nation’s highest court. South Dakota Representative Timothy R. Johns (R) will moderate with speaker Lisa Soronen, State & Local Legal Center, Washington, D.C.
Summary: There is a longstanding conflict between the federal Controlled Substances Act and state laws legalizing marijuana. This year, with the release of the attorney general’s Memorandum on Marijuana Enforcement, states that have legalized marijuana in any context—whether decriminalizing small amounts or legalizing medical, recreational or both—face uncertainty over how the federal government will pursue enforcement. Learn how this new policy may affect states and how to proceed. Utah Representative Eric K. Hutchings (R) will moderate with speakers Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer Sr. (D-Calif.), Senator Roger J. Katz (R-Maine) and Robert Mikos of Vanderbilt Law School.
Summary: A budding coalition has formed to pursue policy reforms enabling youth involved in the criminal justice system to reach their full potential through the arts. Explore the intersection of the arts and the juvenile justice system as presenters share practical examples, significant research and policy implications for state decision-makers. South Carolina Senator Gerald Malloy (D) will be moderating. NCSL gratefully acknowledges the Americans for the Arts for its support of this luncheon.
The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) issued new immigration compliance requirements for four FY18 public safety grants. The goal of these new requirements is to encourage jurisdictions to change their sanctuary policies. The attorney general said, “As part of accomplishing the Department of Justice's top priority of reducing violent crime, we must encourage these 'sanctuary' jurisdictions to change their policies that undermine public safety, and to partner with federal law enforcement to remove criminals.”
The new conditions require jurisdictions to:
For more information, visit the DOJ website and press release.
On June 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill. Some highlights include:
The appropriations bill also contains a statement that applicants for Byrne/JAG, COPS, or SCAAP “are required to attest and certify that the potential grant recipients are in compliance with all applicable federal laws and shall be required to remain compliant throughout the duration of the grant award period.” The bill will next be considered by the full Senate. For more information, read a full summary of the bill.
On June 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed S. 3109, setting FY 2019 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The bill was previously marked up in the Homeland Security Subcommittee on June 19. Overall, the measure allocates a total of $55.15 billion for DHS, a $611 million increase over FY 2018 enacted levels. Of this total, $11.69 billion is directed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including $7.23 billion is designated for the Disaster Relief Fund and an additional $96 million over 2018 levels for nondisaster funding. The bill provides $3.27 billion for state and local emergency management grants and training programs, including in part $512 million for State Homeland Security Grants, $350 million for Emergency Management Performance grants, and $250 million for Pre-disaster Mitigation. The bill will next be considered by the full Senate, though no date has yet been set. For more information, read NCSL’s blog post on the bill.
In Carpenter v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court held 5-4 that the Fourth Amendment requires the government to receive a warrant to obtain cell-site location information (CSLI). Robbery suspects gave the FBI Timothy Carpenter’s name and cell phone number as an accomplice who participated in several robberies with them. Prosecutors obtained Carpenter’s CSLI for more than 100 days and were able to show that Carpenter was located at four of the robberies at the exact time they occurred. Under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), prosecutors applied for a less-stringent court order rather than a warrant to obtain the records. In concluding that obtaining CSLI was a search, the court rejected the argument that the “third-party” doctrine applies in this case.
In previous cases the court has held that people have no legitimate expectation of privacy in information voluntarily turned over to third parties, meaning such information isn’t protected by the Fourth Amendment. According to the court, the information to which the court applied the third-party doctrine in previous cases—bank records and dialed phone numbers—isn’t comparable to “the ability to chronicle a person’s past movements through the record of his cell phone signals.” The court also concluded the government needs to obtain a warrant because warrants are typically required where “a search is undertaken by law enforcement officials to discover evidence of criminal wrongdoing.” The SCA’s requirement to show “reasonable grounds” for believing that the records were “relevant and material” to an ongoing investigation “falls well short of the probable cause required for a warrant.”
A bipartisan NCSL Juvenile Justice Principles Work Group, made up of 15 state legislative leaders in juvenile justice policy from across the country, was formed in 2017 to help states identify and invest in proven methods to put justice-involved youth back on the right track, while also keeping communities safe. Hear how they developed these principles and one man’s deep-rooted mission to advocate for at-risk youth after he, at age 14, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in adult prison for his involvement in a gang-related murder.
On June 26. the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and Measures for Justice (MFJ) announced the National Court Open Data Standards Project, a new partnership that will facilitate and accelerate access to county-level court data. This announcement comes shortly after Florida enacted SB 1392, which requires every county to collect and report uniform data to the state. The law is intended promote transparency by making the data publicly accessible and will allow for new county-level comparison of trends that can help inform policy decisions. The new legislation also authorized and encouraged the use of civil citation or similar prearrest diversion programs for adults accused of certain misdemeanor offenses.
Most states don’t comprehensively track their disaster spending. But with costs rising, the federal government is looking at ways to manage spending that could affect the federal-state partnership in disaster assistance. New research from The Pew Charitable Trusts examines state expenditures across all phases of a natural disaster, identifies challenges states face in collecting comprehensive data, and finds spending was highly variable across states. Pew recommends policymakers prioritize collecting such data to better manage the costs of future events. Read the full report.