Cummings Applauds Senator Durbin's Hearing on "Stand Your Ground" Laws
Washington, DC—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to Senator Dick Durbin, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, applauding his decision to convene a hearing on the civil rights implications when racial profiling and ‘stand your ground’ laws mix.
Below is Cummings’ full letter:
October 29, 2013
The Honorable Richard Durbin
Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Durbin:
I applaud your decision to hold a hearing on “the civil rights implications when racial profiling and ‘stand your ground’ laws mix.”
Over the last year, the Trayvon Martin shooting and the acquittal of his admitted killer have reignited a national conversation about the significant differences in how African-American and other minorities are treated under our criminal justice system when they are the victims of violence. For example, investigative reporters at the Tampa Bay Times reviewed nearly 200 cases in Florida and found that defendants claiming “stand your ground” were more likely to prevail if victims were black than if victims were white.
In addition, an Urban Institute study that analyzed state and local data from 2005 to 2010 on race, justifiable homicide, and “stand your ground” laws found troubling racial disparities. The report concluded:
[H]omicides with a white perpetrator and a black victim are ten times more likely to be ruled justified than cases with a black perpetrator and a white victim, and the gap is larger in states with stand your ground laws. ... Cases with a white perpetrator and a black victim are 281 percent more likely to be ruled justified than cases with a white perpetrator and white victim.
Since Florida became the first state to pass “stand your ground” legislation in 2005, half the states have adopted similar measures, and my constituents have shared with me their grave concerns about the safety of their families and friends who live in and travel to these states. As the guarantor and protector of civil rights, I believe Congress can and must explore the disparate and dangerous outcomes that can arise from the expansion of these laws. Your hearing will be a constructive and much-needed step toward this goal.
Thank you for your leadership, and I look forward to working together on this important issue.
Elijah E. Cummings
 Office of the Honorable Richard Durbin, Durbin to Chair Hearing on “Stand Your Ground Laws” (July 19, 2013).
 Uneven Application, Shocking Outcomes, Tampa Bay Times (June 5, 2012); Race’s Complex Role, Tampa Bay Times (June 4, 2012); Rough Crowd Benefits from Law, Tampa Bay Times (July 22, 2012).
 John K. Roman, Ph.D., Race, Justifiable Homicide, and Stand Your Ground Laws: Analysis of FBI Supplementary Homicide Report Data, Urban Institute (July 2013).