May 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rep. Karen Bass: Income inequality is the greatest disparity in justice system

Rep. Karen Bass

Income inequality affects people's ability to defend themselves and get proper legal representation during criminal trials, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said during an Axios event on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Bass is the lead House negotiator in talks over the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House in March but has stalled in the Senate due to Republican opposition to certain provisions, including curbing qualified immunity for police officers.

What they're saying: "If we look at our criminal justice system, income inequality is key in terms of sentences and how people are able to avoid incarceration," Bass said.

  • "I would say there are disparities from the beginning, the middle and the end that continue," she added. "I am excited that finally our nation is raising the questions, both nationally, state and local — looking at the criminal justice system."

The big picture: Bass said she believes the criminal justice system will require more reform legislation that goes beyond the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

  • Bass was also set to meet with Floyd's family in D.C. on Tuesday, which also marked the one-year anniversary of Floyd's murder in Minneapolis.
  • "The minute the President Biden signs the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, so much more is going to need to be done because we really need to look at policing in the United States," she said.
  • "We need to say in the year 2021 has policing kept up with modern technology, scientific thinking and understanding of behavior. We need to modernize policing in the United States. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is the first step in that direction."

Watch the full event here.

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