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What's Next For Criminal Justice Reform?

Supporters of the Department of Justice’s efforts to address discriminatory practices in urban policing may be watching the end of an era as prospective Attorney General Jeff Sessions prepares for his confirmation hearing.
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(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The U.S. Justice Department is perhaps best known for its vigorous work in protecting the civil and voting rights of racial minorities over the past eight years. What’s been overlooked, though, is how the department also ramped up its activities around protecting women, particularly from sexual harassment and violence in housing and policing matters.

For example, when evidence arose of public housing authority officers sexually violating women tenants in Baltimore and Kansas City, the Justice Department intervened and put consent decrees in place to put it to an end. In December 2015, the Justice Department released first-ever guidelines on how to avoid gender-bias policing to address the increasing problem of police violence against women, both civilians and within police departments. The Justice Department also checked police departments in New Orleans and Puerto Rico with consent decrees to stop the harassment and discrimination against women in hiring and promotions.