Adam Schiff introduced broad "anti-terrorism" legislation that would allow certain crimes to be prosecuted as domestic terrorism.
Civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, opposed the bill in part because they said it would have allowed Attorney General Barr to prosecute people accused of property damage in recent anti-racist protests.
Adam Schiff voted for legislation to create a new crime for offenses that target law enforcement, despite there already being substantial protections under both federal and state laws.
This bill advanced the racist narrative that Black Lives Matter and other people calling for simple accountability were engaged in a “war on police”. The bill was opposed by civil liberties groups including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Adam Schiff was one of only 48 Democrats to vote for a bill to expand the federal death penalty when a law enforcement officer is killed, despite there already being laws that allowed for this.
This bill was strongly opposed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the NAACP Legal Defense Action Fund because it fed into a right-wing narrative against the Black Lives Matter movement and the movement for police accountability, suggesting that these racial justice groups were putting law enforcement lives in danger.
Adam Schiff was one of only 88 Democrats to vote for the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which was passed following the September 11th attacks and created the Department of Homeland Security and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
The American Civil Liberties Union has advocated against the broad surveillance authority granted by the PATRIOT Act because it results in "unchecked government power to rifle through individuals' financial records, medical histories, Internet usage, bookstore purchases, library usage, travel patterns, or any other activity that leaves a record".
In February of 2021, dozens of criminal and social justice groups wrote to California Gov. Gavin Newsom to strongly oppose the potential appointment of Rep. Adam Schiff as the Attorney General of California:
"When Adam Schiff was a member of the California legislature, he was not only supportive of, but deeply invested in, creating our current system of incarceration. This system of incarceration has continued to devastate communities of color and continues to take resources away from our schools, cities, and from all Californians in need."
Authored legislation to create the Department of Juvenile Justice. While he was concerned about effective and efficient administration of these prisons for children, there is no indication Schiff was concerned about conditions in these prisons.
This is a timeline of some documented abuses ongoing after Schiff's legislation.
Authored legislation to allow law enforcement to get search warrants to enter private homes when a person made “loud noises” between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
Authored legislation to create a new state felony, punishable by up to 4 years in state prison, for employers who hired people who were “unauthorized aliens”.
Authored legislation to take power away from juries to make factual findings about priors, thus increasing the ease by which people could be sentenced to lengthy periods of incarceration while violating the rights of the accused under the Sixth Amendment.
Authored legislation to allow children 14 years or older accused of serious crimes to be tried as an adult at the sole discretion of the prosecutor, without a hearing by a judge.
Authored legislation to make it easier for the prosecution to admit an accused’s “confession” interrogation by law enforcement.
False confessions are a prime reason for wrongful convictions, a fact that was well known in 1998.
Authored legislation to massively expand the length of sentences by removing the 5-year sentencing cap for enhancements for non-violent offenses.
Authored legislation to expand the power of a juvenile court to issue orders preventing a parent, relative, or guardian of a child from visiting their own child and to terminate custodial rights.
Given the incredible racial disparities in the juvenile system, the victims of this legislation are largely BIPOC families.
Authored legislation to expand punishment for children who were wards of the court.
Authored legislation to expand the application of three strikes law, making it easier for prosecutors to obtain convictions and limit the writ of habeas corpus for people in custody.
Authored legislation to make juvenile dependency hearings (custody matters, parental rights and visitation hearings) open to the public and press.
Authored legislation to allow for the fingerprints of a minor who was only arrested to be entered into a Department of Justice database.
Letter to Governor Newsom, Feb. 2021
Authored legislation to increase punishment for vandalism under $400 to up to 1 year of incarceration and impose steep fines.
Authored legislation to allow children who were “truant” or “disobedient” (not a crime) who were wards of the court to be punished by being held in a secure facility during non-school hours.
Authored legislation to make it easier for the District Attorney in Los Angeles County to prosecute minors.
Authored legislation to expand the release of confidential information of children who were wards of the court.
Authored legislation to increase funding for the COPS program to fund jail construction and expand law enforcement and District Attorneys offices.
Authored legislation to create “Juvenile Boot Camps” for children as young as 15 who committed offenses at school.
Authored legislation to allow people who were sentenced to wardships under the Youth Authority to be kept in custody after the age of 25 at the Youth Authority's discretion.
Authored legislation to create a new felony punishment for “aggravated trespassing”.
This bill exempted law enforcement officers who unlawfully enter residences.
Authored legislation to make it easier to terminate parental rights for children who were wards of the court.
Jody David Armour, Professor of Law, UCLA