WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) gave the following opening statement during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Examining Best Practices for Incarceration and Detention During COVID-19.” Senator Coons highlighted the disproportionate impact of harmful policing practices and incarceration on communities of color amid ongoing protests across the United States.

“We are in the middle as a nation of three different crises: a public health pandemic in the COVID-19 pandemic that has differentially impacted communities of color; an economic crisis, a deep recession that has impacted communities of color; and now, nationwide protests because of the brutal killing of George Floyd, nationally televised, that is getting this response because policing practices and incarceration have impacted communities of color,” said Senator Coons. “This requires not just a hearing, not just listening, but actually engaging the voices of those all over our country who are protesting because they are fed up at the lack of progress.”

Full audio and video available here. A transcript is provided below.

Sen. Coons: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Ranking Member Feinstein. Thank you to my colleague from Illinois for a sweeping and focused opening. I will briefly, if I could, add my voice to it. 

“We are in the middle as a nation of three different crises: a public health pandemic in the COVID-19 pandemic that has differentially impacted communities of color; an economic crisis, a deep recession that has impacted communities of color; and now, nationwide protests because of the brutal killing of George Floyd, nationally televised, that is getting this response because policing practices and incarceration have impacted communities of color. 

“So, Mr. Chairman, I'm grateful we are having a timely hearing today on detention and incarceration practices during this pandemic. There are too many names that we know. It's not just George Floyd's name. It's Eric Garner’s and Freddie Gray's and it’s dozens of others over many years that have raised the concern of all of us about what we are doing as a nation. This requires not just a hearing, not just listening, but actually engaging the voices of those all over our country who are protesting because they are fed up at the lack of progress. 

“So thank you, Mr. Chairman, for agreeing to the hearing on June 16th. Thank you for this hearing today. But I very much look forward to continuing to hear from and to convey the voices of the people of my home state who have been protesting all weekend a lack of progress in criminal justice reform, a lack of humaneness in how we are conducting imprisonment and detention. I look forward to this hearing today.”

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