IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
August 1, 2019
Mr. Peters (for himself, Mr. Graham, and Mr. Cornyn) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To establish the National Criminal Justice Commission.
This Act may be cited as the
National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2019.
Congress finds that—
it is in the interest of the United States to establish a commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system;
there has not been a comprehensive study since the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice was established in 1965;
in a span of 18 months, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice produced a comprehensive report entitled
The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, which contained 200 specific recommendations on all aspects of the criminal justice system involving—
Federal, State, Tribal, and local governments;
business groups; and
individual citizens; and
developments over the intervening 50 years require once again that Federal, State, Tribal, and local governments, law enforcement agencies, including rank and file officers, civil rights organizations, community-based organization leaders, civic organizations, religious institutions, business groups, and individual citizens come together to review evidence and consider how to improve the criminal justice system.
Establishment of Commission
There is established a commission to be known as the
National Criminal Justice Commission (referred to in this Act as the
Purpose of the Commission
The Commission shall—
undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system;
submit to the President and Congress recommendations for Federal criminal justice reform; and
disseminate findings and supplemental guidance to the Federal Government, as well as to State, local, and Tribal governments.
Review, recommendations, and report
The Commission shall undertake a comprehensive review of all areas of the criminal justice system, including the criminal justice costs, practices, and policies of the Federal, State, local, and Tribal governments.
Not later than 18 months after the date of the first meeting of the Commission, the Commission shall submit to the President and Congress recommendations for changes in Federal oversight, policies, practices, and laws designed to prevent, deter, and reduce crime and violence, reduce recidivism, improve cost-effectiveness, and ensure the interests of justice at every step of the criminal justice system.
If a unanimous vote of the members of the Commission at a meeting where a quorum is present pursuant to section 6(d) approves a recommendation of the Commission, the Commission may adopt and submit the recommendation under paragraph (1).
The recommendations submitted under this subsection shall be made available to the public.
Not later than 18 months after the date of the first meeting of the Commission, the Commission shall disseminate to the Federal Government, as well as to State, local, and Tribal governments, a report that details the findings and supplemental guidance of the Commission regarding the criminal justice system at all levels of government.
If a majority vote of the members of the Commission approves a finding or supplemental guidance at a meeting where a quorum is present pursuant to section 6(d), the finding or supplemental guidance may be adopted and included in the report required under paragraph (1).
In the case of a member of the Commission who dissents from a finding or supplemental guidance approved by a majority vote under paragraph (2), the member may state the reason for the dissent in writing and the report described in paragraph (1) shall include the dissent.
The report submitted under this subsection shall be made available to the public.
The Commission shall take into consideration the work of prior relevant commissions in conducting the review of the Commission.
State and local governments
In issuing the recommendations and report of the Commission under this section, the Commission shall not infringe on the legitimate rights of the States to determine the criminal laws of the States or the enforcement of such laws.
The Commission shall conduct public hearings in various locations around the United States.
Consultation with government and nongovernment representatives
The Commission shall—
closely consult with Federal, State, local, and Tribal governments and nongovernment leaders, including—
State, local, and Tribal law enforcement officials, including rank and file officers;
public health officials;
victims’ rights organizations;
probation and parole officials;
criminal justice planners;
civil rights and liberties organizations;
community-based organization leaders;
formerly incarcerated individuals;
professional organizations; and
corrections officials; and
include in the final report required under subsection (c) summaries of the input and recommendations of the leaders consulted under subparagraph (A).
United States sentencing commission
To the extent the review and recommendations required by this section relate to sentencing policies and practices for the Federal criminal justice system, the Commission shall conduct the review in consultation with the United States Sentencing Commission.
Sense of Congress on unanimity
It is the sense of Congress that, given the national importance of the matters before the Commission—
the Commission should work toward developing findings and supplemental guidance that are unanimously supported by the members of the Commission; and
a finding or supplemental guidance unanimously supported by the members of the Commission should take precedence over a finding or supplemental guidance that is not unanimously supported.
The Commission shall be composed of 14 members, as follows:
The President shall appoint 1 member, who shall serve as a co-chairperson of the Commission.
The co-chairperson described in paragraph (1) shall appoint 6 members in consultation with the leadership of—
the Senate and House of Representatives of the same political party as the President;
the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives of the same political party as the President; and
the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate of the same political party as the President.
The leader of the Senate, in consultation with the leader of the House of Representatives who is a member of the opposite party of the President, shall appoint 1 member, who shall serve as a co-chairperson of the Commission.
The co-chairperson described in paragraph (3) shall appoint 6 members in consultation with the leadership of—
the Senate and House of Representatives of the opposite political party as the President;
the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives of the opposite political party as the President; and
the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate of the opposite political party as the President.
A member shall be appointed based upon knowledge or experience in a relevant area, including—
prison and jail administration;
public health, including—
physical and sexual victimization;
drug addiction; or
the rights of victims;
social services; or
State, local, or Tribal government.
Law enforcement representation
Members appointed by the co-chairpersons
Of the 6 members appointed by the co-chairperson under subsection (a)(2)—
not fewer than 2 shall be representatives from Federal, State, or local law enforcement agencies; and
not fewer than 1 shall be a representative from a Tribal law enforcement agency.
Of the 6 members appointed under subsection (a)(4)—
not fewer than 2 shall be representatives of Federal, State, or local law enforcement agencies; and
not fewer than 1 shall be a representative from a Tribal law enforcement agency.
If an individual possesses a personal financial interest in the discharge of a duty of the Commission, the individual may not be appointed as a member of the Commission.
A member shall be appointed for the duration of the Commission.
Appointments and first meeting
Each member of the Commission shall be appointed not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
The Commission shall hold the first meeting of the Commission on the date, whichever is later, that is not later than—
60 days after the date of enactment of this Act; or
30 days after the date on which funds are made available for the Commission.
At the first meeting of the Commission, the Commission shall—
draft appropriate ethics guidelines for members and staff of the Commission, including guidelines relating to—
conflict of interest; and
consult with the Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and the House of Representatives as a part of drafting the guidelines; and
provide each Committee described in subparagraph (B) with a copy of the guidelines completed under subparagraph (A).
Meetings, quorum, and vacancies
The Commission shall meet at the call of—
the co-chairpersons; or
a majority of the members of the Commission.
Except as provided in paragraph (3)(B), a majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for purposes of conducting business, except that 2 members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for purposes of receiving testimony.
A vacancy in the Commission shall not affect a power of the Commission, and the vacancy shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.
In the case of a vacancy occurring after the date that is 45 days after the date of enactment of this Act, until the date on which the vacancy is filled, a majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum if—
not fewer than 1 member of the Commission appointed under paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection (a) is present; and
not fewer than 1 member of the Commission appointed under paragraph (3) or (4) of subsection (a) is present.
Actions of the Commission
shall, subject to section 5, act by a resolution agreed to by a majority of the members of the Commission voting and present; and
may establish a panel composed of less than the full membership of the Commission for purposes of carrying out a duty of the Commission under this Act, which—
shall be subject to the review and control of the Commission; and
may make a finding or determination that may be considered a finding or determination of the Commission if the finding or determination is approved by the Commission.
If authorized by the co-chairpersons of the Commission, a member, agent, or staff member of the Commission may take an action that the Commission may take under this Act.
The Commission shall have a staff headed by an Executive Director, who shall be paid at a rate established for the Certified Plan pay level for the Senior Executive Service under section 5382 of title 5, United States Code.
Appointments and compensation
The co-chairpersons of the Commission shall designate and fix the compensation of the Executive Director and, in accordance with rules agreed upon by the Commission, may appoint and fix the compensation of such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry out its functions, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that no rate of pay fixed under this subsection may exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code.
Personnel as Federal employees
The Executive Director and any personnel of the Commission who are employees shall be employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 90 of such title 5.
Members of the Commission
Subparagraph (A) shall not be construed to apply to members of the Commission.
The compensation of members
A member of the commission who is not an officer or employee of the Federal Government shall be compensated at a rate equal to the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code, for each day (including travel time) during which the member is engaged in the performance of the duties of the Board.
A member of the commission who is an officer or employee of the Federal Government shall serve without compensation in addition to the compensation received for the services of the member as an officer or employee of the Federal Government.
A member of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for employees of agencies under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while away from the home or regular places of business of the member in the performance of services for the Commission.
Experts and consultants
With the approval of the Commission, the Executive Director may procure temporary and intermittent services under section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code.
Detail of government employees
Upon the request of the Commission, a Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Commission without reimbursement, and such detail shall be without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege.
The Commission shall have reasonable access to materials, resources, statistical data, and other information such Commission determines to be necessary to carry out its duties from—
the Library of Congress;
the Department of Justice;
the Office of National Drug Control Policy;
the Department of State; and
other agencies of the executive or legislative branch of the Federal Government.
Requests for resources
The co-chairpersons of the Commission shall make requests for the access described in paragraph (1) in writing when necessary.
Notwithstanding section 1342 of title 31, United States Code, the Commission—
accept and use the services of an individual volunteering to serve without compensation; and
reimburse the individual described in subparagraph (A) for local travel, office supplies, and for other travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, as authorized by section 5703 of title 5, United States Code; and
shall consider the individual described in paragraph (1) an employee of the Federal Government in performance of those services for the purposes of—
chapter 81 of title 5, United States Code, relating to compensation for work-related injuries;
chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code, relating to tort claims; and
chapter 11 of title 18, United States Code, relating to conflicts of interest.
Obtaining official data
Except as provided in paragraph (3), the Commission may directly secure from an agency of the United States information necessary to enable the Commission to carry out this Act.
Upon the request of the co-chairpersons of the Commission, the head of the agency shall furnish any information requested under paragraph (1) to the Commission.
The Commission may not have access to sensitive information regarding ongoing investigations.
The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as other departments and agencies of the United States.
The Commission shall submit biannual status reports to Congress regarding—
the use of resources;
all expenditures of appropriated funds.
The Commission may enter into a contract with a Federal or State agency, a private firm, an institution, or an individual for the conduct of an activity necessary to the discharge of a duty or responsibility of the Commission.
A contract, lease, or other legal agreement the Commission enters into may not extend beyond the date of the termination of the Commission.
The Commission may accept, use, or dispose of a gift or donation of a service or property.
The Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission, on a reimbursable basis, the administrative support services necessary for the Commission to carry out the responsibilities of the Commission under this Act, which may include—
human resource management;
Non-Applicability of FACA and public access to meetings and minutes
The Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the Commission.
Meetings and minutes
Each meeting of the Commission shall be open to the public, except that a meeting or any portion of it may be closed to the public if it concerns matters or information described in section 552b(c) of title 5, United States Code.
An interested individual may—
appear at an open meeting;
present an oral or written statement on the subject matter of the meeting; and
be administered an oath or affirmation.
Each open meeting of the Commission shall be preceded by timely public notice in the Federal Register of the time, place, and subject of the meeting.
Minutes and public access
Minutes of each open meeting shall be kept and shall contain a record of—
the people present;
a description of the discussion that occurred; and
a copy of each statement filed.
The minutes and records of each open meeting and other documents that were made available to or prepared for the Commission shall be available for public inspection and copying at a single location in the offices of the Commission.
Not later than the date described in section 9, all records and papers of the Commission shall be delivered to the Archivist of the United States for deposit in the National Archives.
Authorization for use of funds
For each of fiscal years 2020 and 2021, the Attorney General may use, from an unobligated balance made available under the heading
General Administration to the Department of Justice in an appropriations Act, such amounts as are necessary, not to exceed $7,000,000 per fiscal year and not to exceed $14,000,000 total for both fiscal years, to carry out this Act, except that none of the funds authorized to be used to carry out this Act may be used for international travel.
The Commission shall terminate 60 days after the date on which the Commission submits the report required under section 5(c) to Congress.