Criminal Justice and Public Safety

Criminal Justice and Public Safety

“Building safe and secure communities is one of our most important national goals. To succeed, we must create drug- and crime-free schools, support a professional, visible police force rooted in our communities, and invest critical resources in the prevention and intervention of criminal activity by at-risk youth.”

– Rep. Adam Schiff

Protecting Children from Predators

As the father of two young children, Rep. Adam Schiff has been a dedicated advocate for child safety and believes we should always demand the best when it comes to protecting our young people. For this reason, he introduced the Child Protection Improvements Act. The Child Protection Improvements Act is bipartisan legislation to ensure that community based groups that provide mentoring, tutoring, and other assistance to young people are able to perform cheap, fast, and accurate background check on prospective volunteers and employees.

Improving Police-Community Relations

Rep. Schiff has supported efforts to improve police-community relations, both in Los Angeles and around the country. In furtherance of that effort, he has been a leading advocate for the greater deployment of body-worn cameras for police officers. Research has shown that the use of cameras has a positive effect on police interactions with civilians, while providing an indisputable record of events in the case of a confrontation.

Solving Crimes With DNA Evidence

As a former prosecutor, Rep. Schiff believes in the unique power of DNA evidence to convict the guilty and free the innocent. He has been among the most active and engaged Members of Congress in pushing the criminal justice system, both federally and locally, to use this technology to its fullest potential. Among his initiatives is the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act, legislation to incentivize states to follow the lead of California and many other states in collecting DNA from individuals arrested for serious felonies. In 2012, President Obama signed Katie’s Act into law.

Schiff has also been a supporter of groundbreaking new uses for DNA technology. Among these is a technology called Familial DNA which holds great promise for solving some of the most difficult cases and punishing the guilty. Familial DNA works by matching a sample collected at a crime scene to the database of convicted offenders in such a way that it reports instances where there is a high likelihood that the crime scene sample comes from someone very closely related to a person in the offender database. This technology was used in California to identify and convict the Grim Sleeper serial killer in Los Angeles, an individual who had killed at least 10 people over decades but had gone unapprehended. Schiff has introduced the Utilizing DNA to Solve Cold Cases Act to introduce familial DNA technology to the federal database.

Reducing the Rape Kit Backlog

Rep. Schiff was a leader in gaining federal support to clear a decade-old backlog of DNA evidence collected from sexual assaults in the LAPD and Sheriff’s Office crime labs. Schiff obtained millions of dollars through the Appropriations process to reduce and ultimately eliminate a backlog of thousands of rape kits, helping to solve open cases and provide closure to victims. Schiff also spearheaded the effort to obtain substantial federal support to help create a state-of-the-art crime lab in Glendale. In May of 2012, the “Verdugo Regional Crime Laboratory” officially opened; examining fingerprints, computer forensics, DNA and firearms- they are now capable of processing about 400 to 600 samples of DNA each month in sexual assault, financial, property or burglary crimes.

Reforming Our Criminal Justice System 

Rep. Adam Schiff is a leading advocate for smart, evidence-based criminal justice reforms that reduce spending on corrections and reduce recidivism among those who have spent time in prison. As a State Senator, Schiff led by coauthoring and passing the Schiff-Cardenas Crime Prevention Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation in California which paired investments in enforcing the law with greater funding for proven programs to prevent crime and provide opportunities to young, at-risk people.

The size and cost of our prison system has exploded over the past three decades, and substantial research has shown that smart reform of the criminal justice system can have the three-fold effect of reducing crime, reducing spending, and reducing recidivism.

Schiff has continued to lead in the Congress on criminal justice issues. He has supported sentencing reform efforts, including the successful effort to narrow the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity. He also is a leading advocate for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a data-driven program to address out of control correctional spending by investing in proven solutions to reduce recidivism and reinvest the savings into the community.

He is also a supporter of the Honest Opportunities with Probation Enforcement Initiative Act (HOPE). The HOPE program was pioneered by Judge Steven Alm of Hawaii, a former U.S. Attorney, who developed a highly effective system of probation for offenders under his supervision. HOPE provides for swift, certain sanctions for missteps by probationers, but punishments are graduated so that they increase in severity over time. An independent study of HOPE found that it reduced recidivism by 55 percent – an unprecedented success. Schiff’s legislation would expand the HOPE model to additional sites around the country. Along with this legislation, Schiff has worked on a bipartisan basis towards a larger reform package, and is hopeful that one can pass during the 2015-2016 session.