Dean Heller on Crime
Voted NO on enforcing against anti-gay hate crimes.
Congressional Summary:Adopts the definition of "hate crime" as set forth in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994: a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person. Provides technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of hate crimes, including financial grant awards.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. JOHN CONYERS (D, MI-14):This bill expands existing Federal hate crimes law to groups who are well-known targets for bias-based violence--they are sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. These crimes of violence are directed not just at those who are directly attacked; they are targeting the entire group with the
threat of violence.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LAMAR SMITH (R, TX-21): Every year thousands of violent crimes are committed out of hate, but just as many violent crimes, if not more, are motivated by something other than hate--greed, jealousy, desperation or revenge, just to name a few. An individual's motivation for committing a violent crime is usually complex and often speculative. Every violent crime is deplorable, regardless of its motivation. That's why all violent crimes should be vigorously prosecuted. Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system--equal justice for all. Under this bill, justice will no longer be equal. Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim. It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime. This is the real injustice.
Reference: Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act;
; vote number 2009-H223
on Apr 2, 2009
Voted YES on expanding services for offenders' re-entry into society.
H.R.1593: Second Chance Act of 2007: Community Safety Through Recidivism Prevention or the Second Chance Act (Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass). To reauthorize the grant program for reentry of offenders into the community in the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and to improve reentry planning and implementation.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. CONYERS: Some 650,000 men and women are leaving the Federal and State prisons each year. While the vast majority of the prisoners are committed to abiding by the law and becoming productive members of society, they often encounter the same pressures & temptations that they faced before prison. More than two-thirds of them are arrested for new crimes within 3 years of their release. This exacts a terrible cost in financial terms as well as in human terms. The Second Chance Act will help provide these men and women with the training, counseling and other support needed to help them obtain
& hold steady jobs; to kick their drug and alcohol habits; rebuild their families; and deal with the many other challenges that they face in their efforts to successfully rejoin society.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. GOHMERT: The programs that are sought to be renewed are ones we don't have information on how successful they were. I can tell you from my days as a judge, there was some anecdotal evidence that it looked like faith-based programs did a better job of dramatically reducing recidivism. In addition:
Reference: Second Chance Act;
; vote number 2007-1083
on Nov 13, 2007
- There are some provisions that allow for too much administration. That is going to build a bigger bureaucracy.
- Dismissing all charges if someone completes drug rehab under another provision I think is outrageous. You are going to remove the hammer that would allow you to keep people in line?
- We also have a provision to teach inmates how they can go about getting the most welfare before they leave prison and go out on their own.
Death penalty for killing police officers.
Heller co-sponsored death penalty for killing police officers
Congressional Summary: Makes the killing or attempted killing of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other first responder an aggravating factor in death penalty determinations [when] the defendant killed or attempted to kill a person who is authorized by law:
- to engage in or supervise the prevention, detention, investigation, or prosecution, or the incarceration of any person for any criminal violation of law;
- to apprehend, arrest, or prosecute an individual for any criminal violation of law; or
- to be a firefighter or other first responder.
- And that the person was killed--
- while he or she was engaged in the performance of his or her official duties;
- because of the performance of his or her official duties; or
- because of his or her status as a public official or employee.
Opposing argument: [Sen. Bernie Sanders, Oct. 13, 2015]: "Black lives matter. The African American community knows that on any given day some
innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and three days later she's dead in jail. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major reforms in a broken criminal justice system. I intend to make sure people have education and jobs rather than jail cells."
Opposing argument: [ACLU of Louisiana, July 7, 2015]: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill into law that makes targeting a police officer a hate crime. Passage of such bills is a top priority for a national organization called Blue Lives Matter, which was formed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. [A video captured] "police killing a black man who was minding his own business," says the director of ACLU-LA. But it was the civil rights of police officers that Edwards was concerned about, as if theirs were being routinely violated: "I'm not aware of any evidence that police officers have been victimized that would justify giving them special protection."
Source: Thin Blue Line Act 16-S2034 on Feb 9, 2015
First step: reduce recidivism & mass incarceration.
Heller voted YEA First Step Act
- TITLE I--RECIDIVISM REDUCTION: establish a risk and needs assessment system to evaluate the recidivism risk of prisoners; to guide housing assignments; and to reward participation in recidivism reduction programs.
- TITLE II--BUREAU OF PRISONS SECURE FIREARMS STORAGE: allow federal correctional officers to securely store and carry concealed firearms on BOP premises outside the security perimeter of a prison.
- TITLE III--RESTRAINTS ON PREGNANT PRISONERS PROHIBITED: limits the use of restraints on federal prisoners who are pregnant or in postpartum recovery.
- TITLE IV--SENTENCING REFORM: reduces the enhanced mandatory minimum prison terms for certain repeat drug offenses.
Opposing press release from Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1):: The reform sentencing laws in this bill may compromise the safety of our communities. Criminals convicted of violent crimes would have the opportunity to
achieve 'low risk' status and become eligible for early release. California already has similar laws in place--Propositions 47 and 57--which have hamstrung law enforcement and caused a significant uptick in crime.
Supporting press release from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10):: S. 756 establishes a new system to reduce the risk that [federal prisoners] will commit crimes once they are released. Critically, S. 756 would not only implement these reforms to our prison system, but it also takes a crucial first step toward addressing grave concerns about our sentencing laws, which have for years fed a national crisis of mass incarceration. The bill is a 'first step' that demonstrates that we can work together to make the system fairer in ways that will also reduce crime and victimization.
Legislative outcome: Concurrence Passed Senate, 87-12-1, on Dec. 18, 2018; Concurrence Passed House 358-36-28, Dec. 20, 2018; President Trump signed, Dec. 21, 2018
Source: Congressional vote 18-S756 on Dec 20, 2018
Easier access to rape kits, and more rape kit analysis.
Heller signed easier access to rape kits, and more rape kit analysis
Congress finds the following: The purpose of this Act is to address the problems surrounding forensic evidence collection in cases of sexual assault, including rape kit backlogs, reimbursement for or free provision of rape kits, and the
availability of trained health professionals to administer rape kit examinations.
- Rape is a serious problem.
- In 2006, there were an estimated 261,000 rapes and sexual assaults.
- The collection and testing of DNA evidence is a critical tool in solving rape cases.
- Despite the availability of funding under the Debbie Smith Act of 2004, there exists a significant rape kit backlog.
- A 1999 study estimated that there was an annual backlog of 180,000 rape kits that had not been analyzed.
- No agency regularly collects information regarding the scope of the rape kit backlog.
- Certain States cap reimbursement for rape kits at levels that are less than 1/2 the average cost of a rape kit.
- There is a lack of health professionals who have received specialized training specific to sexual assault victims.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS:
Sen. FRANKEN: Last year, 90,000 people were raped. Thanks to modern technology, we have an unparalleled tool to bring sexual predators to justice: forensic DNA analysis. Rape kit DNA evidence is survivors' best bet for justice. Unfortunately, we have failed to make adequate use of DNA analysis. In 2004, then-Sen. Biden and others worked to pass the Debbie Smith Act, a law named after a rape survivor whose backlogged rape kit was tested six years after her assault. Unfortunately, because many localities simply did not use the Debbie Smith funds they were allocated, the promise of the Debbie Smith Act remains unfulfilled.
In 2009, Los Angeles had 12,500 untested rape kits; Houston found at least 4,000 untested rape kits in storage, and Detroit reported a backlog of possibly 10,000 kits. Those are just three cities. Hundreds of thousands of women have not seen justice.
Source: Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault (S2736&HR4114) 2009-S2736 on Nov 5, 2009
Rated 73% by the NAPO, indicating a moderate stance on police issues.
Heller scores 73% by the NAPO on crime & police issues
Ratings by the National Association of Police Organizations indicate support or opposition to issues of importance to police and crime. The organization's self-description: "The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) is a coalition of police units and associations from across the United States. NAPO was organized for the purpose of advancing the interests of America's law enforcement officers through legislative advocacy, political action, and education.
"Increasingly, the rights and interests of law enforcement officers have been the subject of legislative, executive, and judicial action in the nationís capital. NAPO works to influence the course of national affairs where law enforcement interests are concerned. The following list includes examples of NAPOís accomplishments:
- Enactment of the Fair Sentencing Act
- Enactment of the National AMBER Alert Act
- Enactment of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
- Enactment of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act
- Enactment of the Law Enforcement Officers' Safety Act (Right to Carry Legislation)
VoteMatch scoring for the NAPO ratings is as follows:
Source: NAPO ratings on Congress and politicians 2014_NAPO on Dec 31, 2014
- 0%-50%: soft on crime and police issues;
- 50%-75%: mixed record on crime and police issues;
- 75%-100%: tough on crime and police issues.
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