What To Know Today

NEW FROM THE TRACE: Last-gasp Trump rule may force banks to lend to gun companies. Officials from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is part of the Treasury Department, laid out a new rule that purports to ensure “fair access” to banking and financial services. If adopted, it would compel banks to evaluate companies on quantitative and financial metrics, not on political or social considerations. The change comes after numerous banks have cut ties with gunmakers. “I’m hard pressed to think of a previous time where [the OCC] did rulemaking that had such an obvious political bent to it,” one expert said. You can read Chip Brownlee’s piece here

“This is some scary stuff:” Electors take unusual security precautions to formalize Biden’s win. On Monday, the Electoral College made official what has been clear for weeks: Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. But the usually humdrum process was set in the shadow of President Trump’s ceaseless false claims of voter fraud and weeks of armed demonstrations, violence at protests, and threats against elected officials. In Arizona, electors met at an undisclosed location; in Michigan, legislative offices closed and electors were given police escorts to and from the state Capitol amid “credible threats of violence;” in Wisconsin, authorities also shuttered the Capitol building. Despite fears of unrest, electors in all 50 states completed the vote without incident.

Bipartisan panel targets investments in community-focused public safety measures. The National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice released its final report about how the pandemic revealed major shortcomings in the criminal justice system. The commission, chaired by former U.S. attorneys general Alberto Gonzales and Loretta Lynch, issued a slew of recommendations for how to better balance the fields of public health and public safety. Among them:

  • More public support for community violence prevention groups, which already play key roles in public health and safety: “To maximize the effectiveness of community-based organizations in a crisis, criminal justice leaders should proactively engage them… as well as providing those organizations with ongoing sources of funding.”  
  • Create non-law enforcement alternatives for people in crisis: “Invest in evidence-based public health alternatives to traditional law enforcement… With regard to mental health specifically, prior to making an arrest police can be provided with community-based alternatives for people with a mental illness.” 

The recommendations, taken together, would help rebalance the criminal justice system and “allow law enforcement to step back from the role they have taken on that creates a great deal of tension in our society,” Lynch said during a public discussion about the report.

A $1 million grant project will explore why young Black men carry guns. The National Gun Violence Research Center is funding the two-year effort through four historically Black colleges and universities located in cities facing elevated rates of gun violence (Houston; Wilmington, Delaware; Jackson, Mississippi; and Baltimore). The study will try to understand why Black men between the ages of 15 to 24 carry guns and how they view firearms. “The country is looking for solutions and this is a great place to start,” said Howard Henderson, director of the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University and one of the project partners. “Youth gun violence has been absent from the national criminal justice reform conversation.”

Data Point

260 of 600 — the number of cases in which the New York City police commissioner unilaterally downgraded or dismissed abuse charges brought against officers by the Civilian Complaint Review Board between 2014 and 2018. [ProPublica]