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Patrick Leahy on Crime

Democratic Sr Senator (VT)

 


Worked to reverse some of mandatory minimum sentences

Leahy often points to his service as Chittenden County State's Attorney as his guidepost for his legislative initiatives on the Judiciary Committee. He champions the needs of crime and domestic violence victims. He co-authored the Bulletproof Vest grant program which has helped purchase 4,400 life-saving vests for local law enforcement officers throughout Vermont since 1999. He supports state and local law enforcement through Community Oriented Policing Services and Homeland Security grants.

Leahy knows the criminal sentencing system needs repair to restore fairness and reduce overcrowding in prisons. He joined a group of bipartisan senators on sentencing reform legislation that will reverse some of the misguided mandatory minimums passed during the "War on Drugs" in the 1980s and 1990s.

Source: 2021 Vermont Senate campaign website LeahyForVermont.com , Jun 22, 2021

Voted YES on reinstating $1.15 billion funding for the COPS Program.

Amendment would increase funding for the COPS Program to $1.15 billion for FY 2008 to provide state and local law enforcement with critical resources. The funding is offset by an unallocated reduction to non-defense discretionary spending.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

This amendment reinstates the COPS Program. I remind everyone, when the COPS Program was functioning, violent crime in America reduced 8.5% a year for 7 years in a row. Throughout the 1990s, we funded the COPS Program at roughly $1.2 billion, and it drove down crime. Now crime is rising again. The COPS Program in the crime bill worked, and the Government Accounting Office found a statistical link between the COPS grants and a reduction in crime. The Brookings Institution reported the COPS Program is one of the most cost-effective programs we have ever had in this country. Local officials urgently need this support.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

The COPS Program has some history. It was started by President Clinton. He asked for 100,000 police officers. He said that when we got to 100,000, the program would stop. We got to 110,000 police officers and the program continues on and on and on.

This program should have ended 5 years ago or 6 years ago, but it continues. It is similar to so many Federal programs that get constituencies that go on well past what their original purpose was. It may be well intentioned, but we cannot afford it and we shouldn't continue it. It was never thought it would be continued this long.

Reference: Biden Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.529 on S.Con.Res.21 ; vote number 2007-110 on Mar 23, 2007

Voted YES on $1.15 billion per year to continue the COPS program.

Vote on an amendment to authorize $1.15 billion per year from 2000 through 2005 to continue and expand the Community Oriented Policing Services program. $600 million of the annual funding is marked for hiring additional officers [up to 50,000]
Reference: Bill S.254 ; vote number 1999-139 on May 20, 1999

Voted NO on limiting death penalty appeals.

Vote to table, or kill, a motion to send the bill back to the joint House-Senate conference committee with instructions to delete the provisions in the bill that would make it harder for prisoners given the death penalty in state courts to appeal.
Reference: Bill S.735 ; vote number 1996-66 on Apr 17, 1996

Voted NO on limiting product liability punitive damage awards.

Approval of a limit on punitive damages in product liability cases.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)59; N)40; NV)1
Reference: Conference Report on H.R. 956; Bill H. R. 956 ; vote number 1996-46 on Mar 21, 1996

Voted NO on restricting class-action lawsuits.

Restriction of class-action security lawsuits.
Status: Veto Overridden Y)68; N)30; P)1
Reference: H.R. 1058 passage over veto; Bill H.R. 1058 ; vote number 1995-612 on Dec 22, 1995

Voted YES on repealing federal speed limits.

Repeal federal speeding limits.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)64; N)36
Reference: Motion to table Lautenberg Amdt #1428; Bill S. 440 ; vote number 1995-270 on Jun 20, 1995

Voted NO on mandatory prison terms for crimes involving firearms.

Vote on the motion to instruct conferees on the bill to insist that the conference report include Mandatory prison terms for the use, possession, or carrying of a firearm or destructive device during a state crime of violence or drug trafficking
Reference: Bill HR.3355 ; vote number 1994-126 on May 19, 1994

Voted NO on rejecting racial statistics in death penalty appeals.

Vote to express that the Omnibus Crime bill [H.R. 3355] should reject the Racial Justice Act provisions, which would enable prisoners appealing death penalty sentences to argue racial discrimination using sentencing statistics as part of their appeal.
Reference: Bill S 1935 ; vote number 1994-106 on May 11, 1994

Rated 75% by CURE, indicating pro-rehabilitation crime votes.

Leahy scores 75% by CURE on rehabilitation issues

CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants) is a membership organization of families of prisoners, prisoners, former prisoners and other concerned citizens. CURE's two goals are

  1. to use prisons only for those who have to be in them; and
  2. for those who have to be in them, to provide them all the rehabilitative opportunities they need to turn their lives around.
The ratings indicate the legislatorís percentage score on CUREís preferred votes.
Source: CURE website 00n-CURE on Dec 31, 2000

Moratorium on death penalty; more DNA testing.

Leahy co-sponsored a bill limiting capital punishment:

H.R. 1038, S.233:

To place a moratorium on executions by the Federal Government and urge the States to do the same, while a National Commission on the Death Penalty reviews the fairness of the imposition of the death penalty .
S.486 & H.R.912:
To reduce the risk that innocent persons may be executed [by examining DNA evidence more thoroughly].
Source: H.R.912 01-HR1038 on Mar 7, 2001

More funding and stricter sentencing for hate crimes.

Leahy co-sponsored the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act:

Title: To provide Federal assistance to States and local jurisdictions to prosecute hate crimes.

Summary: Provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any violent crime that is motivated by prejudice based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim or is a violation of hate crime laws.

  1. Award grants to assist State and local law enforcement officials with extraordinary expenses for interstate hate crimes.

  2. Award grants to State and local programs designed to combat hate crimes committed by juveniles.

  3. Prohibit specified offenses involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

  4. Increase criminal sentencing for adult recruitment of juveniles to commit hate crimes.

  5. Collect and publish data about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on gender.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR1343 on Apr 3, 2001

Require DNA testing for all federal executions.

Leahy wrote the Innocence Protection Act:

Title: To reduce the risk that innocent persons may be executed.

    Summary: Authorizes a person convicted of a Federal crime to apply for DNA testing to support a claim that the person did not commit:

  1. the Federal crime of which the person was convicted; or

  2. any other offense that a sentencing authority may have relied upon when it sentenced the person with respect to such crime.

  3. Prohibits a State from denying an application for DNA testing made by a prisoner in State custody who is under sentence of death if specified conditions apply.

  4. Provides grants to prosecutors for DNA testing programs.

  5. Establishes the National Commission on Capital Representation.

  6. Withholds funds from States not complying with standards for capital representation.

  7. Provides for capital defense incentive grants and resource grants.

  8. Increases compensation in Federal cases, and sets forth provisions regarding compensation in State cases, where an individual is unjustly sentenced to death.

  9. Adds a certification requirement in Federal death penalty prosecutions.

  10. Expresses the sense of Congress regarding the execution of juvenile offenders and the mentally retarded.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR912 on Mar 7, 2001

Increase funding for "COPS ON THE BEAT" program.

Leahy co-sponsored increasing funding for "COPS ON THE BEAT" program

COPS Improvements Act of 2007 - Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to make grants for public safety and community policing programs (COPS ON THE BEAT or COPS program). Revises grant purposes to provide for:

  1. the hiring or training of law enforcement officers for intelligence, antiterror, and homeland security duties;
  2. the hiring of school resource officers;
  3. school-based partnerships between local law enforcement agencies and local school systems to combat crime, gangs, drug activities, and other problems facing elementary and secondary schools;
  4. innovative programs to reduce and prevent illegal drug (including methamphetamine) manufacturing, distribution, and use; and
  5. enhanced community policing and crime prevention grants that meet emerging law enforcement needs.
    Authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to:
  1. assign community prosecutors to handle cases from specific geographic areas and address counterterrorism problems, specific violent crime problems, and localized violent and other crime problems; and
  2. develop new technologies to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in crime prevention.
Source: COPS Improvements Act (S.368/H.R.1700) 07-S368 on Jan 23, 2007

Reduce recidivism by giving offenders a Second Chance.

Leahy co-sponsored reducing recidivism by giving offenders a Second Chance

Legislative Outcome: Became Public Law No: 110-199.
Source: Second Chance Act (S.1060/H.R.1593) 08-S1060 on Mar 29, 2007

Facilitate recovering crime victim restitution fees.

Leahy co-sponsored Crime Victim Restitution and Court Fee Intercept Act

Congressional Summary:

Source: HR1416/S755 11-S0755 on Apr 7, 2011

First step: reduce recidivism & mass incarceration.

Leahy voted YEA First Step Act

Congressional Summary:

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

Rated 73% by the NAPO, indicating a moderate stance on police issues.

Leahy 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:

VoteMatch scoring for the NAPO ratings is as follows:

Source: NAPO ratings on Congress and politicians 2014_NAPO on Dec 31, 2014

Other candidates on Crime: Patrick Leahy on other issues:
VT Gubernatorial:
Christine Hallquist
David Zuckerman
Keith Stern
Matt Dunne
Phil Scott
Rebecca Holcombe
Shap Smith
Sue Minter
VT Senatorial:
Al Giordano
Bernie Sanders
Brooke Paige
John MacGovern
Lawrence Zupan
Scott Milne

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Page last updated: Jul 26, 2021