First #Ferguson Bill Set to Become Law: Deaths in Custody Reporting Act

First #Ferguson Bill Set to Become Law: Deaths in Custody Reporting Act

Bobby Scott
Rep. Bobby Scott

First Piece of #Ferguson Related Legislation Passes Congress and Will Become Law. H.R. 1447, the Death in Custody Reporting Act, authored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), passed the Senate (Wednesday) tonight and is on its way to be signed into law. The bill passed the House a year ago in December 2013.

The legislation requires police departments to report deaths in police custody to the Department of Justice. The bill passed the House before Eric Garner and Michael Brown were killed by police and their deaths made national headlines.

Rep. Scott’s bill requires states and federal law enforcement agencies to report details of deaths in custody to the Department of Justice. This includes demographic data and the circumstances of the death and whether the death occurred in police custody or during arrest. The bill further requires the Attorney General to study the information gathered and provide suggestions to reduce the number of deaths in police custody.

Rep. Scott is the most senior Democrat on the House Judiciary subcommittee on Crime.

READ H.R. 1447 – The Death in Custody Reporting Act, here.

In 2000, Congress passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act, which required states to provide info any time a person dies during an arrest. But the Act expired in 2006. Since then, DoJ has not had access to data on on deaths in police custody. With a do-nothing Congress that is continuously mired in gridlock, few lawmakers were focused on the legislation. But then the stories of Brown and Garner made national headlines.

Scott’s bill was pushed in the Senate by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). H.R. 1447 was passed by unanimous consent meaning there were no major objections from anyone in either party. Rare. No one can believe that this Congress actually passes useful laws (understandable…) so the video of H.R. 1447 passing via UC on Wednesday evening is at bottom.

In 2013, 461 (we think…) people were killed by the police — the most in 30 years. Scott dropped the Death In Custody Reporting Act in early 2013.

Yesterday, Black Caucus members John Conyers (D-MI), Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) called for in-depth congressional hearings into the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Other Ferguson related bills can be seen here.

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Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, comms strategist and political analyst. She created Crewof42, a blog focused on African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke also writes for NBC BLK, The Root, NNPA and is the Managing Editor of Politic365. As part of a diverse career in politics and media, she has served as a congressional staffer for the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Director of Communications for Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor of Virginia. From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Burke appeared each Monday on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin on TVOne. Ms. Burke holds a B.A. in History from The American University. She was born and raised in New York. Email: Twitter: @LVBurke. IG: @laurenvburke. Periscope: @LVBurke


  1. At last,first piece of Ferguson Related Legislation Passes Congress and Will Become Law[H.R.1447],The Death in Custody Reporting Act….No indictment, No faith in justice system. Staten Island,New York…Even former President George W.Bush called a Staten Island Grand Jury”s decision not to indict a police officer in the choke hold death of Eric Garner,a 43-year-old father of six, hard to understand during a talk with CNN…The Inspector General of Police, The Deputies and also The Director of Criminal Investigation, should collaborate with The Justice Department of The U.S. along with The President, giving him the power to Appoint and Allowing The Admissibility of Digital Photographs in court.