House stalks criminals
Lawmakers seek tougher penalties
May 8, 1996
Web posted at: 10:15 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a sweeping move to crack down on crime against "vulnerable" citizens, the House overwhelmingly approved four bills that would make life tougher for sex offenders, stalkers and violent criminals who prey on children and the elderly.
The measures were passed Tuesday to "protect those who are most vulnerable in our society," said Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Florida. He indicated he expected the Senate to come up with bills to match those passed by the House.
Rep. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said the bill was needed because, more times than not, sex offenders commit the same crime once released from jail. (160K AIFF sound or 160K WAV sound)
One of the bills is a federal version of the so-called "Megan's Law." The law would require states to notify communities when dangerous convicted sex offenders are released and move into neighborhoods. Under current law, states decide whether to inform the public.
Megan's Law is named for 7-year-old Megan Kanka of Hamilton Township, New Jersey, who was killed two years ago. A convicted sex offender who lived across the street was charged with the crime.
The law passed 418-0.
Lawmakers also approved separate two-strikes-and-you're-out provisions to a second bill that would make sentences about twice as severe for crimes against children, the elderly and disabled.
One provision would let prosecutors seek life sentences without parole for repeat offenders of rape or serious sexual assault. The overall bill passed 414-4.
The third bill would expand federal anti-stalking provisions to include those who cross state borders to injure or harass someone. And the fourth would allow tougher sentences for people convicted of jury or witness tampering.
The Clinton administration supports the new Megan's Law bill, the anti-stalking bill and the jury and witness tampering and retaliation bill.
President Clinton also backs tougher penalties for crimes against children, the elderly and the disabled, but has taken no position on requiring life sentences for a second conviction for violent sexual assault.
- U.S. crime rate drops for fourth consecutive year - May 5, 1996
- Senate passes anti-terrorism bill - April 17, 1996
- Stripped-down crime bill passes House - March 14, 1996
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