Federal Crime Control: Background, Legislation, and Issues
Federal Crime Control:
Background, Legislation, and Issues
Updated October 27, 2008
Kristin M. Finklea
Analyst in Crime Policy
Domestic Social Policy Division
Lisa M. Seghetti
Specialist in Domestic Security and Immigration Policy
Domestic Social Policy Division
Federal Crime Control:
Background, Legislation, and Issues
States and localities have the primary responsibility for prevention and control
of domestic crime. As crime became more rampant, the federal government
increased its involvement in crime control efforts. Over a period of 10 years,
Congress passed five major anti-crime bills and increased appropriations for federal
assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies. Since the 9/11 terrorist
attacks, however, federal law enforcement efforts have been focused more on
countering terrorism and maintaining homeland security. Amid these efforts,
however, Congress continues to address many crime-related issues.
Many have attributed the increased attention the federal government gave to
crime issues in the 1980s and 1990s to the rising crime rate. The violent crime rate,
for example, began to increase in the 1960s, continuing to rise in the mid-1990s
before starting to decline in the late-1990s. The continued decline in the violent
crime rate in the early 2000’s coincided with national attention being focused away
from domestic crimes and more on securing the homeland against terrorism. During
this period, Congress began to increase federal funding to homeland security-related
activities. In 2005, however, the violent crime rate began to increase and continued
to increase in 2006, before declining again in 2007. The increase in the violent crime
rate in 2005 and 2006, however, continues to remain at an over 30 year low.
The 110th Congress is considering a variety of crime-related legislation, some
of which has either been enacted, reported out of committee, and/or passed one or the
other Chamber. For example, the following Acts were enacted during the 110th
Congress: the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-177); the Second
Chance Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-199); the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution
Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-326); the Effective Child Pornography Prosecution Act of
2007 (P.L. 110-358); the Drug-Endangered Children Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-345); the
Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-360); the Methamphetamine
Production Prevention Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-415); and the Mentally Ill Offender
Treatment and Crime Reauthorization and Improvement Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-416).
The House passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007
(H.R. 1592) and the COPS Improvement Act of 2007 (H.R. 1700). The Senate passed
the Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007 (S. 456), and the Senate Judiciary
Committee favorably reported the COPS Improvement Act of 2007 (S. 368), the
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2008 (S. 3155),
and the Fugitive Information Networked Database Act of 2008 (S. 3136). In addition
to the aforementioned legislation, other crime-related issues have surfaced during the
110th Congress that could warrant congressional action, such as the U.S. Sentencing
Commission amending the federal sentencing guidelines by lowering the
recommended penalties for crack cocaine offenses in an effort to alleviate some of
the issues associated with the sentencing disparity in current law between crack and
powder cocaine; reforming the Federal Prison Industries; reforming the federal
sentencing system; and providing oversight of the various Department of Justice
grant programs. This report will be updated as warranted.
In troduction ......................................................1
Violent Crime Rate............................................3
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)..........................5
The Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program.................5
States’ Victim/Witness Protection Program.........................6
Mandatory Minimum Sentences and Crack/Powder Cocaine Sentencing
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) Reauthorization...11
Mentally Ill Offenders.............................................12
Child Pornography and the Sexual Exploitation of Children...............14
Federal Prison Industries...........................................17
Federal Sentencing Structure....................................18
Maintaining the Fugitive Database...............................20
Oversight of DOJ Grant Programs................................21
Appendix. Selected Crime-Related Legislation Enacted in the 109th Congress.22
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006
The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization
Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162).................................22
Department of Justice Reauthorization........................22
Consolidation of Certain Office of Justice Programs.............22
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).................23
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).......................23
List of Figures
Figure 1. Violent Crime Rate, 1988-2007...............................4
Federal Crime Control:
Background, Legislation, and Issues
The prevention and control of domestic crime has traditionally been a
responsibility of state and local governments, with the federal government playing
more of a supportive role. The federal government increased its involvement in
domestic law enforcement through a series of grant programs to encourage and assist
states and communities in their efforts to control crime and in the expansion in the
number of offenses that could be prosecuted in the federal criminal justice system.
Over a 10-year period (1984-1994), Congress enacted five major anti-crime1
bills and increased appropriations for federal assistance to state and local law
enforcement agencies. As a result, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had
seen an expansion of its role in fighting domestic crime as Congress began to add
more crimes to the federal criminal code that were previously under the sole
jurisdiction of state and local governments. Within the past several years, however,
some federal assistance to state and local law enforcement has declined, and the FBI
refocused its resources on countering terrorism as federal post-9/11 law enforcement
efforts have focused primarily on protecting the nation against terrorist attacks.
The policy question facing Congress is what is the role of the federal
government in crime control? Specific questions related to this issue include the
!Should federal jurisdiction over hate crimes be broadened?
!Should the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Community Oriented
Policing Services (COPS) program be restructured?
!Should the federal government provide additional and new funding
for court security and states’ victim/witness protection programs?
!Should the federal government play a larger role in reintegrating ex-
offenders into the community?
!Should the federal government play a larger role in prosecuting
identity theft, and how should it treat restitution for victims?
!Should the federal mandatory minimum penalties for crack and
powder cocaine be equitable?
1 See for example, the Crime Control Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-473); the Anti-Drug Abuse Act
of 1986 (P.L. 99-570); the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-690); the Crime Control
Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-647); and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of
!Should the federal government play a larger role in combating the
abuse and illicit manufacture of methamphetamine?
!Should the federal government play a role in stemming gang-related
!Should the federal government weigh in on what should be the
proper treatment of juvenile offenders?
!Should the federal government provide additional and new funding
for programs that support mentally ill offenders?
!Should federal jurisdiction over crimes related to child pornography
and the sexual exploitation of children be broadened?
!Should the federal government expand grant funding to aid state and
local governments analyze and decrease the backlog in DNA
!Should certain products produced and services provided by federal
inmates be opened to a competitive bidding process?
!Should the federal sentencing scheme be reformed in light of the
2005 U.S. Supreme Court case U.S. v. Booker (125 S.Ct. 738
!Should the federal government provide funding to aid state, local,
and tribal governments maintain the fugitive database?
!Should Congress exercise its oversight role of several Department
of Justice grant programs, including the Edward Byrne Memorial
Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) and the Community Oriented
Policing Services (COPS) grant program?
This report focuses on the aforementioned crime-related issues and legislation
that have been acted upon in the 110th Congress. This report, however, does not
cover issues related to homeland security, terrorism, abortion, and gun control.2
As previously mentioned, the prevention and control of domestic crime has
traditionally been a responsibility of state and local governments, with the federal
government playing a more supportive role. The federal government began to take
a more direct role in crime control, however, as the violent crime rate increased and
some questioned the ability of state and local law enforcement to combat the growing
problem with limited resources at their disposal.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Report (UCR)
program compiles data from monthly reports transmitted directly to the FBI from
approximately 17,000 local police departments or state agencies. Of interest to
2 See the CRS website at [http://www.crs.gov/] for related reports on homeland security and
terrorism. For information on abortion issues, see CRS Report RL33467, Abortion:
Legislative Response, by Karen J. Lewis and Jon O. Shimabukuro. For information on gun
control issues, see CRS Report RL32842, Gun Control Legislation, by William J. Krouse.
3 For additional information on crime statistics, see CRS Report RL34309, How Crime in
the United States is Measured, by Nathan James and Logan Rishard Council.
lawmakers are the two indices of crimes that are the basis of the UCR. The Part I
index includes the four major violent crimes of homicide and nonnegligent
manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The Part II index
includes the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and
arson. The UCR collects crime data from the various state and local law enforcement
agencies and presents it in a variety of formats in the UCR. The data on which the
crime rates are derived are crime incidents reported to the police (as opposed to
arrests made by police or cases cleared by the police).
Although the UCR is most commonly referenced when discussing crime rates,
another measurement is worth noting. The National Crime Victim Survey (NCVS),
which is administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics
(BJS), is a comprehensive, nation-wide survey of victimization in the United States.
Since not all crimes are reported to local law enforcement, NCVS data attempts to
address under-reporting issues in the UCR by asking respondents if they have been
victimized any time in the past year. Each year, data are obtained from a nationally
representative sample of 77,200 households comprising nearly 134,000 persons on
the frequency, characteristics and consequences of criminal victimization in the
United States.4 The NCVS asks respondents if they have been the victim of rape,
sexual assault, robbery, assault, theft, household burglary, and motor vehicle theft.
NCVS data allows DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to estimate the likelihood
of victimization for the population as a whole as well as for segments of the
population such as women, the elderly, members of various racial groups, city
dwellers, or other groups. For the most part, the NCVS generally trends similar to
the UCR. For the purpose of this report, however, we will be presenting and
analyzing crime rates as reported by the UCR program.
Violent Crime Rate
According to the UCR, the violent crime rate began to increase sharply in the
1960s. The increase continued throughout the 1970s and into the early 1990s. By
the mid-1990s, however, the violent crime rate began to decline (see Figure 1).
While the violent crime rate continued to decline overall into the new millennium,
it increased slightly in 2005 and 2006, however began to decline once again in 2007.
Despite the slight increases in the violent crime rate in 2005 and 2006, the rate5
remained at a 30-year low.
The decline in the crime rate has led recent Congresses, in part, to take another
look at federal funding for state and local law enforcement. Despite the declining
crime rate, however, Congress continued to pass “get tough” measures for certain
categories of offenders by increasing existing penalties or creating new categories of
penalties (i.e., mandatory minimum sentences). Following is a discussion of
legislation that has seen legislative action in the 110th Congress and selected crime-
related issues that could warrant congressional consideration.
4 U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Crime
and Victims Statistics, available online at [http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cvict.htm].
5 Although not discussed in this report, the property crime rate during the period examined
tended to closely trend the violent crime rate.
Figure 1. Violent Crime Rate, 1988-2007
88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07
19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20
Ye a r
Source: FBI’s UCR for each respective year (see 2007 Federal Bureau of Investigation U.S.
Department of Justice, Crime in the United States Uniform Crime Report).
Under current federal law, hate crimes are limited to certain civil rights offenses.
The issue facing Congress is whether it should consider legislation to broaden federal
jurisdiction over hate crimes by establishing additional categories of hate crime
offenses that could be prosecuted in a federal court. In 2006, there were 7,722
reported incidents of hate crimes. Before a crime is labeled a hate crime, law
enforcement must reveal sufficient evidence to lead a reasonable person to conclude
that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by his or her bias.
There is little disagreement that some criminal acts are motivated due to a bias based
on race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity. There is, however, disagreement
with respect to the level of federal intervention. While some argue that greater
federal involvement would ensure that such crimes are systematically addressed,
others contend that federal involvement would be redundant to the legal prohibitions
for these crimes (in their traditional form) that already exist under either federal or
For several Congresses, attempts had been made to stiffen penalties for crimes
of violence motivated by bias. The 110th Congress is considering such legislation,
and on May 3, 2007, the House passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes
Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1592).
6 For additional information and legislation in the 110th Congress on hate crimes, see CRS
Report RL33403, Hate Crime Legislation, by William J. Krouse.
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)7
The COPS program, created by Title I of the Violent Crime Control and Law
Enforcement Act of 1994, aims to increase community policing in part by awarding
grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies for hiring and training new
officers as well as for several non-hiring purposes, including developing crime-
prevention technology and strategy. The 109th Congress passed legislation that8
reauthorized the COPS program through FY2009. In addition to reauthorizing the
program, the act consolidated the COPS program into a single grant program. Prior
to this, the COPS program consisted of several different subgrant programs. The
110th Congress, however, is considering legislation that would restructure and further
reauthorize the COPS program. Two bills have seen legislative action thus far. On
May 15, 2007, the House passed the COPS Improvement Act of 2007 (H.R. 1700)
and on May 24, 2007, the Senate passed a different version of the COPS
Improvement Act of 2007 (S. 368). In general, both bills would, among other things,
expand the scope of the COPS grant programs, make COPS an exclusive component
of DOJ, and authorize appropriations for COPS.
The Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program. The Bulletproof Vest
Partnership Grant Program receives its appropriations under the COPS program but
is administered by DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The program provides
benefits to eligible state and local law enforcement entities to be used for the
purchase of body armor. The House considered legislation to reauthorize the
program, H.R. 6045, under suspension of the rules on September 25, 2008; however,
after limited debate, the motion to suspend the rules was objected to due to a lack of
The 2005 Atlanta court shooting that killed several court personnel, including
a judge, brought national attention to the issue of court security. While legislation
was introduced and passed in one Chamber in the 109th Congress, legislation was notth
enacted. In the 110 Congress, however, legislation was enacted on January 7, 2008
(the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007; P.L. 110-177). Among other
provisions, the Act increases penalties for certain crimes committed against specific
categories of federal employees and their family members, including federal judges.
The Act also increases penalties for certain illegal acts that are committed against
jurors, witnesses, victims and informants, as discussed below.
7 For additional information on the COPS program, see CRS Report RL33308, Community
Oriented Policing Services (COPS): Background, Legislation, and Issues, by Nathan James.
8 See the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005
9 For additional information and legislation in the 110th Congress on court security, see CRS
Report RL33473, Judicial Security: Comparison of Legislation in the 109th Congress, by
Nathan James, and CRS Report RL33464, Judicial Security: Responsibilities and Current
Issues, by Lorraine H. Tong.
States’ Victim/Witness Protection Program
Witness intimidation reduces the likelihood that citizens will engage with the
criminal justice system, which could deprive police and prosecutors of critical
evidence.10 It can also reduce public confidence in the criminal justice system and
create the perception that the criminal justice system cannot protect citizens. Witness
intimidation can be the result of actual or perceived threats from an offender or his
associates, but it can also be the result of more general community norms that
discourage residents from cooperating with the police or prosecutors.11
P.L. 110-177, enacted on January 7, 2008, provides incentives for states to
enhance their victim/witness protection programs. For example, the Act expands an
existing grant program so funds could be used for states and local governments’
victim/witness protection programs.12
Each year nearly 650,000 offenders are released from prison, and the Bureau of
Justice Statistics estimates that over 60% of all released prisoners will commit new
offences within three years of their release. The issue facing Congress is how to
manage this population once they have been released from custody. There has been
recent discussion of reinstating parole at the federal level (for non-violent, drug
offenders) and creating and enhancing existing programs that are designed to provide
assistance for offenders to prepare them for reentry into their communities. Many
studies have shown that reentry initiatives that combine work training and placement
with counseling and housing assistance can significantly reduce recidivism rates.
Within the federal government and the academic community, a broad consensus
exists that offender reentry can typically be divided into three phases: programs that
prepare offenders to reenter society while they are in prison, programs that connect
ex-offenders with services immediately after they are released from prison, and
programs that provide long-term support and supervision for ex-offenders as they
settle into communities permanently. Both the President’s Serious and Violent
Offender Reentry initiative and recent congressional appropriations in this area have
10 Kelly Dedel, Witness Intimidation, July 2006, Washington DC: Department of Justice,
Community Oriented Policing Services, p. 6.
11 Ibid, p. 3.
12 Other bills introduced in the 110th Congress (H.R. 933 and S. 79) would establish a Short-
term State Witness Protection Section within the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). The
Short-term State Witness Protection Section would provide protection for witnesses in state
and local trials involving homicide or other major violent crimes pursuant to cooperative
agreements with state and local prosecutor’s offices and the U.S. Attorney for the District
13 For additional information on offender reentry, see CRS Report RL34287, Offender
Reentry: Correctional Statistics, Reintegration into the Community, and Recidivism, by Blas
focused primarily on programs for offenders once they have been released from
On April 9, 2008, the Second Chance Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-199) was enacted.
This Act expands the current offender reentry grant program at DOJ. It also
authorizes funding for pilot programs for a wide range of services for offenders
reentering the community. These programs fall under five broad categories: grants
for state and local reentry courts, substance abuse treatment and counseling, health
care-related services, family unification programs, and education programs.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) most recent survey on
identity theft, approximately 8.3% of the U.S. adult population may have fallen14
victim to identity theft in 2005. Furthermore, FTC complaint data from 2006
indicate that the most common complaint received (36% of complaints) was that of15
identity theft. Policymakers continue to be tasked with strengthening the criminal
statues to allow for effective prosecution of identity thieves and to provide restitution
In April, 2007, The President’s Identity Theft Task Force authored a strategic
plan for combating identity theft in which it recommended that Congress close gaps
in the federal criminal statues to more effectively prosecute identity theft-related
offenses.16 Legislation enacted in the 110th Congress addresses several of these
recommendations. The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008
(Title II of P.L. 110-326) was signed into law on September 26, 2008; it authorizes
restitution to ID theft victims and expands prosecution of identity thieves. Elements
of this Act include eliminating provisions in the U.S. Code that required identity theft
to involve interstate or foreign communication and eliminating those provisions that
required that damage to a victim’s computer amass to $5,000. This Act also expands
the definition of “cyber-extortion” and expands interstate and foreign jurisdiction for
prosecuting computer fraud offenses.
The 110th Congress introduced several other bills related to identity theft,
suggesting that policymakers continue to be concerned with safeguarding
individuals’ and organizations’ data. Specifically, the House passed H.R. 6600, H.R.
4791, H.R. 3461, and H.R. 1525, which are aimed at eliminating the inclusion of
Social Security numbers on Medicare cards, securing personal information held by
federal agencies, advancing public education regarding Internet safety threats, and
14 Federal Trade Commission, 2006 Identity Theft Survey Report, November 2007, at
[ h t t p : / / www.f t c.go v/ os/ 2007/ 11/ Synovat eFi n al Repor t IDT hef t 2006.pdf ] .
15 Federal Trade Commission, Identity Theft Victim Complaint Data, February 7, 2007, at
[ ht t p: / / www.f t c.gov/ bcp/ edu/ mi cr osi t e s/ i dt hef t / downl oads/ c l e ar i nghouse_2006.pdf ] .
16 The President’s Identity Theft Task Force, Combating Identity Theft: A Strategic Plan,
April 23, 2007, at [http://www.identitytheft.gov/reports/StrategicPlan.pdf]
advancing the prosecution of identity theft committed with the aid of Internet
Mandatory Minimum Sentences and Crack/Powder
Cocaine Sentencing Disparities
Mandatory minimum sentencing laws require offenders to be imprisoned for a
specified period of time for committing certain types of crimes. While the intent of
mandatory minimum sentencing and other similar measures is to punish the most
serious offenders by incarcerating them for long periods, critics contend that the laws
are disproportionately applied to nonviolent, minority offenders. While this debate
tends to focus on non-violent, drug offenses, it is especially apparent, they argue,
with the crack versus powder cocaine sentencing disparities. Proponents, however,
contend that mandatory minimums decrease crime and ensure certainty in the
criminal justice system. In addition to serving as a specific deterrent, proponents
argue that these measures serve as a general deterrent to potential criminals.
The 1986 and 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Acts (P.L. 99-570 and P.L. 100-690,
respectively) played pivotal roles in the current mandatory minimum sentencing
structure applicable to federal drug offenses. The 1986 Act created mandatory
minimum sentences for certain illicit drugs that are based on the quantity and type of
drug involved in trafficking offenses. The Act, however, is most notable for its
establishment of what has come to be known as the 100-to-1 quantity ratio between
powder and crack cocaine.17 The 1988 Act required a mandatory minimum sentence
for a first time offense of simple possession of crack cocaine. Possession of more
than 5 grams of crack cocaine is punishable under the act by a minimum of five
Congress, through the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of
1994,18 directed the U.S. Sentencing Commission (Commission) to study the
difference in penalties for powder and crack cocaine offenses. Congress was
concerned that the penalties for crack and powder cocaine were having a
disproportionate effect on minority offenders. In 1995, 1997, 2002 and 2007, the
Commission reported to Congress19 on the disparity in penalties for crack and powder
cocaine offenses. In the first report, the Commission called for Congress to equalize
the quantities between crack and powder cocaine that trigger a mandatory minimum
penalty. However, in their 2002 and 2007 reports, the Commission recommended
that the 5-year and 10-year “trigger” quantities for crack cocaine be raised, but not
to the level of powder cocaine. While the penalties remain in place at the federal
level, some states have begun to take measures to ameliorate the discrepancies in
17 It takes 100 times as much powder cocaine to trigger the same 10-year mandatory penalty
as for a given amount of crack cocaine.
18 P.L. 103-322.
19 To gain access to these report, go to [http://www.ussc.gov/reports.htm].
In May 2007, the Commission proposed an amendment to the federal sentencing
guidelines that would amend the guidelines by lowering the recommended penalties
for crack cocaine offenses in an effort to alleviate some of the issues associated with
the sentencing disparity in current law between crack and powder cocaine. In
November 2007, the amendment went into effect and the Commission voted in favor
of making the amendment retroactive. The amendment, however, does not impact
the mandatory minimum penalties that are in current law.20 Meanwhile, several bills
have been introduced in the 110th Congress that would, in some manner, reduce the
mandatory minimum penalty triggers for crack and powder cocaine.
Illicit methamphetamine (MA) manufacture and abuse are longstanding
problems in some states and regions of the country. The problem of illicit MA
manufacture and use has been particularly acute in the West, Midwest, and Southeast.
In recent years, concerns were raised that this drug problem was spreading
nationwide, and MA issues reemerged as an important national concern and topped
the congressional agenda. The illicit manufacture and abuse of MA have
implications for public health, child welfare, crime and public safety, and
international relations. According to the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and
Health (NSDUH), there were approximately 529,000 current users of MA aged 12
or older (0.2% of the population).
Over the past 30 years, Congress has enacted legislation designed to address the
problem of illicit MA abuse and its manufacture in clandestine labs. These measures
have included more stringent federal regulation of MA precursor chemicals,
enhanced criminal penalties for trafficking in the drug, and authorizing additional
funding for grants providing MA-specific law enforcement assistance. During theth
109 Congress, the enactment of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and
Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-177) included a number of provisions
designed to address various aspects of the MA problem. Title VII of P.L. 109-177,
the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act (CMEA), which included provisions
designed to curb MA use, trafficking, and production, was signed into law on March
9, 2006. Among other things, P.L. 109-177 further limited the diversion of MA
precursor chemicals by requiring retailers to track purchases of over-the-counter
medications containing these substances; authorized stricter limits on the bulk
importation of MA precursor chemicals; provided increased MA-related criminal
penalties; authorized measures related to the clean up of illicit MA laboratory sites;
and authorized a grant program to prevent and treat MA abuse among pregnant and
20 For additional information, see CRS Report RS22800, U.S. Sentencing Commission’s
Decision on Retroactivity of the Crack Cocaine Amendment, by Brian T. Yeh.
21 For more information, see CRS Report RS22325, Methamphetamine: Legislation and
Issues in the 110th Congress, by Celinda Franco.
Congress continues to be concerned about the abuse and illicit manufacture of
MA. More recently, legislation was introduced during the 110th Congress on a broad
range of issues related to MA abuse, illicit manufacture, treatment, and drug
trafficking offenses. Two more targeted measures were enacted that build on some
of the provisions enacted in the CMEA (P.L. 109-177). S. 1276, the
Methamphetamine Production Prevention Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-415), passed by the
House and Senate on September 29, 2008, further specifies the procedures retailers
must follow for tracking the retail purchases of over-the-counter (OTC) medications
containing MA precursor chemicals. H.R. 1199, the Drug-Endangered Children Act
of 2007 (P.L. 110-345), passed by the House and Senate on September 24, 2008,
extends the authority of the Drug-Endangered Children grant program through
Gangs continue to be a problem throughout America. According to a survey of
law enforcement agencies on the characteristics of youth gangs conducted by the
National Youth Gang Center (NYGC),23 gang activity is pervasive in both urban and
rural America. Of cities with populations of 50,000 or more, 86% reported youth
gang problems in 2006. Among responding suburban county agencies, 51% reported
gang activity, as did 33% of responding smaller city agencies, and 15% of responding
rural county agencies. The NYGC estimates that in 2006, 785,000 gang members
and 26,500 gangs were active across the United States.
Policymakers have long considered solutions to youth gang violence that include
a combination of prevention, intervention, and suppression efforts. However, as gang
violence increases, some are calling for different approaches to the issue. For
example, should the tools used by law enforcement for certain crime-related activities
(i.e., interception of wire, oral, and electronic communications) be expanded to cover
violations committed by criminal street gang members? Should provisions in the
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act be extended to members
of criminal street gangs? Should federal authority to prosecute juvenile gang
members as adults be expanded to younger juveniles?
Over the years, Congress has passed legislation that enhanced criminal penalties
for gang-related crimes and created programs designed to prevent youths from
joining gangs. Several bills targeting the gang problem have been introduced in the
110th Congress. Among other provisions, some of the bills would broaden the scope
of the federal government’s role in prosecuting violent crimes committed by
members of gangs. Some of the bills would include provisions for prosecuting
criminal street gang enterprises similar to the existing Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organization (RICO) statutes for prosecuting cases involving federal
racketeering. One of the more controversial provisions in at least one of the bills
22 Portions of this section were taken from CRS Report RL33400, Youth Gangs:
Background, Legislation and Issues, by Celinda Franco.
23 See [http://www.iir.com/nygc/].
pertains to the age at which a juvenile could be transferred for criminal prosecution,
which would provide for the transfer of juveniles to adult criminal prosecution at the
age of 16. Some of the bills would provide for increased mandatory minimum
penalties for gang-related offenses. In at least one of the bills, the death penalty
would provide for certain gang-related crimes. Some of the bills would create and
authorize designated high-intensity interstate gang activity areas (HIIGAAs). Some
of the bills would reauthorize the Gang Resistance Education and Training
(G.R.E.A.T) program and authorize appropriations for state and local reentry courts.
Additionally, some of the bills would also authorize grant programs that would
increase prosecutorial resources to more effectively prosecute gang violence, among
Of the various pieces of legislation that have been introduced in the 110th
Congress, only one has received congressional action. The Senate passed the Gang
Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007 (S. 456) on September 21, 2007.
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act
As more focus is being placed on young offenders, some have questioned the
way in which the United States treats this population in the nation’s criminal justice
systems. Over the past thirty years, the federal juvenile justice system has generally
moved from a focus on rehabilitation to a focus on holding juveniles accountable for
their actions. In a larger sense, this is the underlying tension that drives the national
debate surrounding the juvenile justice system: rehabilitation versus retribution. This
debate may come into focus again because the authorization for the Juvenile Justice
Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA) expired in 2007. It has not been
reauthorized thus far in the 110th Congress, although its major programs have
continued to receive appropriations. The last time the JJDPA was reauthorized,
during the 107th Congress in 2002, P.L. 107-273 restructured many of the grant
programs aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency, repealed a large number of
smaller grant programs, and consolidated most of their purpose areas into one large
block grant that included accountability and graduated sanctions. Many of the
programs that were repealed, however, continued to receive annual appropriations
even as the overall juvenile justice appropriation has decreased by over 50%. The
theme of holding juveniles accountable for the crimes they commit continued into the
108th and 109th Congresses as several pieces of legislation attempted to lower the age
of culpability for certain gang-related offenses.
The core issues in the larger juvenile justice debate will remain the same during
the 110th Congress: whether rehabilitation should be the driving theme in the
handling and processing of young offenders through the criminal justice system or
whether a more punitive approach that emphasizes young offenders’ responsibility
for the crimes they commit should be the focus. Another issue that may arise
24 Portions of this section were taken from CRS Report RL33947, Juvenile Justice:
Legislative History and Current Legislative Issues, by Blas Nuñez-Neto.
involves the apparent dichotomy between the legislation, which features three broad
overarching grant programs, and the appropriations that continue to fund the smaller
grant programs that were repealed in 2002. S. 3155, as reported by the Senate
Committee on the Judiciary, would reauthorize the major provisions of the JJDPA
from FY2009 through FY2013. The bill would make slight modifications to the
existing grant programs and would create a new grant program, the Incentive Grants
for State and Local Programs, that would channel funding into evidence-based
prevention and intervention programs, and would aim to expand the use of mental
health and substance abuse screening, assessment, referral, treatment, diversion, and
aftercare services for juveniles.
Mentally Ill Offenders
In recent years, policymakers have become increasingly interested in the issue
of mentally ill offenders and the strain their illnesses place on the criminal justice
system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
“health, mental health and substance abuse problems often are more apparent in jails
and prisons than in the community.”25 Furthermore, inmates are often diagnosed
with health, mental health, and substance abuse problems only after receiving care
while incarcerated.26 A 2006 Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report found that in
2004 over half of inmates in state prisons (56%) and local jails (64%), and nearly half
of all federal prisoners (45%), had a mental health problem.27 Data collected for the
report indicated that mentally ill inmates in state prisons and local jails were more
likely than inmates without mental illness to have been convicted of a violent offense28
or to have had three or more prior incarcerations.
25 Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Correctional Health, available online at [http://www.cdc.gov/correctionalhealth/].
27 The findings in the report were based on data from personal interviews with state and
federal prisoners in 2004 and local jail inmates in 2002. Mental health problems were
defined by two measures: a recent history or symptoms of a mental health problem.
Symptoms must have occurred in the 12 months prior to the interview. A recent history of
mental health problems included a clinical diagnosis or treatment by a mental health
professional. Symptoms of a mental disorder were based on criteria specified in the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV). Doris J.
James and Lauren E. Glaze, Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates, NCJ
28 According to BJS, 61% of mentally ill inmates in state prison were currently incarcerated,
or convicted in the past, for a violent offense, compared to 56% of state inmates without a
mental illness. For inmates in local jails, 44% were currently incarcerated, or convicted in
the past, for a violent offense, compared to 36% of inmates without a mental illness. BJS
also found that 25% of mentally ill state inmates had three or more prior incarcerations,
compared to 19% on non-mentally ill inmates, and 26% of mentally ill inmates in local jails
had three or more prior incarcerations, compared to 20% of non-mentally ill inmates. Ibid.
Policymakers have focused on how to provide treatment and services to
mentally ill offenders both while they are incarcerated and after they are released, as
well as how to prevent mentally ill offenders from entering the criminal justice
system, especially for minor non-violent offenses. Currently, the Bureau of Justice
Assistance (BJA) awards grants under the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration
Program for programs that increase public safety by facilitating collaboration among
the criminal justice, juvenile justice, mental health treatment, and substance abuse
systems to increase access to treatment.29 One of the goals of the program is to
maximize the use of diversion from prosecution, the use of alternative sentences
through community supervision, and the use of graduated sanctions, as appropriate,
in cases involving nonviolent offenders with mental illness.30
The Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Reauthorization and
Improvement Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-416), signed into law on October 14, 2008,
reauthorizes funding for the Adult and Juvenile Collaborations Program grants. The
Act authorizes $50 million for each fiscal year for FY2009 through FY2014. The
Adult and Juvenile Collaborations Program authorizes the Attorney General to award
grants to state, local, and tribal governments to prepare a plan for and implement a
program (which is overseen cooperatively by a criminal or juvenile justice agency or
mental health court and a mental health agency) to ensure access to adequate mental
health and other treatment services for non-violent, mentally ill adult or juvenile
offenders who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, or who are manifesting
signs of mental illness, and who are facing criminal charges for a misdemeanor or
non-violent offense and are deemed to have committed the crime as a result of mental
Additionally, the Act authorizes a new grant program that provides grants to
state, local, and tribal governments to provide for (1) programs that offer law
enforcement personnel specialized and comprehensive training in procedures to
identify and respond appropriately to incidents involving individuals with mental
illness; (2) the development of specialized receiving centers to assess individuals in
the custody of law enforcement for suicide risk and mental health and substance
abuse treatment needs; (3) computerized information systems (or to improve existing
systems) to provide timely information to improve the response to mentally ill
offenders; (4) the establishment and expansion of cooperative efforts by criminal and
juvenile justice agencies and mental health agencies to promote public safety through
the use of effective intervention with respect to mentally ill offenders; and (5)
programs that offer campus security personnel training in procedures to identify and
respond appropriately to incidents involving individuals with mental illness.
29 The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program was authorized by the Mentally Ill
Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-414). U.S. Department of
Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Justice and Mental Health
Collaboration Program, available online at [http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/grant/JMHC
31 42 U.S.C. §3797aa(b)(1).
Child Pornography and the Sexual Exploitation
Growing access to, and increasing use of, the Internet has facilitated the
proliferation of child pornography. According to the Department of Justice’s Child
Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), by the mid-1980s trafficking of child
pornography had been almost eliminated through a series of successful law
enforcement initiatives.32 Producing child pornography was both difficult and
expensive, and purchasing and trading such images was risky.33 CEOS reports that
the Internet now allows images and digitized movies to be easily reproduced and
disseminated to tens of thousands of people.34 In addition, the distribution and
receipt of such images can be done almost anonymously. According to a 2007 BJS
report, child pornography cases accounted for approximately 69% of all federal
sexual exploitation cases and 82% of the growth in sex exploitation cases referred to
U.S. Attorneys offices between 1994 and 2006.35
Congress has focused on reducing child pornography through a combination of
increased penalties for producing and/or possessing child pornography and by
funding initiatives to catch and prosecute child pornographers. Most notably, the
Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today
(PROTECT) Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-66) increased penalties related to the production
and/or possession of child pornography. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
investigates cases of child pornography through its Innocent Images National
Initiative (IINI). According to the FBI, the mission of IINI is to “reduce the
vulnerability of children to acts of sexual exploitation and abuse which are facilitated
through the use of computers; to identify and rescue child victims; to investigate and
prosecute sexual predators who use the Internet and other online services to sexually
exploit children for personal or financial gain; and to strengthen the capabilities of
federal, state, local, and international law enforcement through training programs and
investigative assistance.”36 Currently, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention (OJJDP) provides funding for Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC)
task forces across the country. The ICAC program was created to help state and local
law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative response to offenders who use
32 U.S. Department of Justice, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Child
Pornography, available online at [http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/ceos/childporn.html].
35 Mark Motivans and Tracey Kyckelhahn, Federal Prosecution of Child Sex Exploitation
Offenders, 2006, NCJ 219412, December 2007, p. 1, available online at
[http://www.oj p.usdoj .gov/bj s /pub/pdf/fpcseo06.pdf].
36 U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Innocent Images National
Initiative, available online at [http://www.fbi.gov/publications/innocent.htm].
the Internet or other computer technology to sexually exploit children.37 There are
currently 59 regional ICAC task forces.38
Title I of P.L. 110-358 does expand and Subtitle D of Title II of S. 3297 would
expand the authority of the federal government to prosecute crimes relating to child
pornography and the sexual exploitation of children. Subtitle D would, among other
things, amend current law so that anyone who uses any means or facility of interstate
or foreign commerce to commit an act that is a crime under 18 U.S.C. §§2251
(Sexual Exploitation of Children), 2251A (Selling or Buying of Children), 2252
(Certain Activities Relating to Material Involving the Sexual Exploitation of Minors),
or 2252A (Certain Activities Relating to Material Constituting or Containing Child
Pornography) could be prosecuted for offenses under those sections. Both bills
would also amend current law so that for someone to be prosecuted for a crime under
18 U.S.C. §§2251, 2251A, 2252, or 2252A the prohibited act(s) could either be
conducted in interstate or foreign commerce or the act(s) could affect interstate and
Title II of P.L. 110-358 amends current law, and Subtitle E of Title II of S. 3297
and Title II of S. 3344 would amend current law so that offenses under 18 U.S.C.
§2252A (relating to child pornography), where the child pornography contains a
visual depiction of an actual minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and 18
U.S.C §2260 (production of certain child pornography for importation into the
United States) are predicate crimes for a prosecution for money laundering under 18
U.S.C. §1956. All three bills amend current law39 to expand the federal
government’s ability to prosecute crimes related to knowingly accessing child
pornography with the intent to view child pornography.
Title I of S. 1738, Part I of Subtitle H of Title II of S. 3297, and Subtitle A of
Title I of S. 3344 would expand the federal government’s efforts to prevent child
exploitation, online child predators, and child pornography. All three bills would
require the Attorney General to create and implement a national strategy for child
exploitation prevention and interdiction. This subtitle would, among other things,
authorize a national Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force program,
which would consist of state and local law enforcement task forces dedicated to
developing effective responses to online enticement of children by sexual predators,
child exploitation, and child obscenity and pornography cases.40 All three bills would
also authorize $60 million for each of FY2009 through FY2013 for grants to support
ICAC task forces. Title III of S. 1738, Part III of Subtitle H of Title II of S. 3297, and
37 Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Training & Technical Assistance Program,
available online at [http://www.icactraining.org/].
39 18 U.S.C. §§2252 and 2252A.
40 Section 2812 of S. 3297 includes language which states that it is the intent of Congress
that the ICAC task force program that would be established by the section would continue
the ICAC task force program authorized under title I of the Departments of Commerce,
Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1998, and
funded under Title IV of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974.
Subtitle C of Title I of S. 3344 expand the authority of the federal government to
prosecute crimes related to broadcasting live images of child abuse. All three bills
would also amend current law41 to allow the federal government to prosecute
individuals who modify or alter an image of an identifiable minor in order to produce
P.L. 110-358 was enacted on October 8, 2008. S. 1738 was cleared for the
President on September 27, 2008. S. 3344 was placed on the Senate legislative
calendar on July 28, 2008. S 3297 was introduced on July 22, 2008. The bill was not
referred to committee, and the Senate started to debate the bill on July 26, 2008. As
of September 26, 2008, the Senate has not invoked cloture on the motion to proceed
to consideration of the measure.
The analysis of DNA42 evidence has had a profound effect on how law
enforcement investigates crime. For many years, the collection of DNA evidence
grew quickly, outstripping the resources available to analyze it and resulting in a
backlog of requests. Many publicly funded laboratories across the country have been
experiencing difficulty meeting the demand for these tests and reducing their DNA
backlogs. At the same time, federal and state laws were enacted requiring the
collection of DNA samples from those convicted of certain offenses, thus adding to
the backlog. In response, Congress enacted the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination
Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-546), authorizing grants to states to carry out DNA analyses.
Over the years since its original authorization, this grant program has been
reauthorized, amended, and renamed the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant
Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program43
The Debbie Smith DNA Backlog program was first authorized under the DNA
Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-546) and subsequently
reauthorized and expanded under the Justice for All Act (P.L. 108-405).44 Under the
current program, grants are awarded to state and local governments to help them
collect and analyze DNA evidence from backlogged crime scenes. More specifically,
the program grants can be used to
!analyze samples collected under applicable legal authority for
inclusion in the national DNA database, the Combined DNA Index
System (CODIS) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI);
41 18 U.S.C. §2252A.
42 Deoxyribonucleic acid.
43 For more information, see CRS Report RL33489, An Overview and Funding History of
Selected Department of Justice (DOJ) Grant Programs, by Nathan James.
44 42 U.S.C. §14135.
!analyze samples from crime scenes, including samples from rape
kits, samples from other sexual assault evidence, and samples taken
in cases without an identified suspect for inclusion in the national
!increase the capacity of laboratories owned by states or units of local
government to carry out DNA analyses of collected samples;
!collect DNA samples from individuals who are required to submit
samples under applicable legal authority; and
!ensure that DNA testing and analysis of samples from crimes,
including sexual assault and other serious violent crimes, are carried
out in a timely manner.
The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-360), signed into law
on October 8, 2008, authorizes appropriations of $151 million for each fiscal year.
In addition, the Act requires that for each of the fiscal years 2009-2014, at least 40%
of the grant amounts awarded must be for the purpose of analyzing DNA samples
from crime scenes taken in cases without an identified suspect for inclusion in
Federal Prison Industries45
UNICOR, the trade name for Federal Prison Industries, Inc., is a government-
owned corporation that employs offenders incarcerated in correctional facilities under
the Federal Bureau of Prisons. FPI manufactures products and provides services that
are sold to executive agencies in the federal government. The question of whether
FPI is unfairly competing with private businesses, particularly small businesses, in
the federal market has been and continues to be an issue of debate. At the core of the
debate is FPI’s preferential treatment over the private sector. FPI’s enabling
legislation and the Federal Acquisition Regulation require federal agencies, with the
exception of the Department of Defense, to procure products offered by FPI, unless
authorized by FPI to solicit bids from the private sector. It is this “mandatory source
clause” that has drawn controversy over the years and is the subject of current
legislation. Although federal agencies are not required to procure services provided
by FPI, they are encouraged to do so.
Although the Administration made several efforts to mitigate the competitive
advantage FPI has over the private sector, Congress has taken legislative action to
lessen such impact on the private sector. For example, in 2002 and 2003, Congress
passed legislation that modified FPI’s mandatory source clause with respect to
procurements made by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence46
Agency; and in recent years, Congress passed legislation limiting federal agencies
use of appropriated funds for the purchase of products or services manufactured by
45 For additional information, see CRS Report RL32380, Federal Prison Industries, by
46 See the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2002 (P.L. 107-107); the Bob Stump
National Defense Authorization Act for FY2003 (P.L. 107-314); and the Intelligence
Authorization Act for FY2004 (P.L. 108-177).
FPI unless the agency determines that the products or services provide “... the best
value to the buying agency pursuant to government-wide procurement
Legislation has been introduced in the 110th Congress that would, in essence,
eliminate FPI’s mandatory source clause. For example, the Federal Prison Industries
Competition in Contracting Act of 2005 (H.R. 2965) and S. 749 would have phased
out over five years FPIs’ mandatory source clause with respect to products produced
by FPI and would have ceased treating FPI as a preferential provider for services.
In addition to the aforementioned legislation, other crime-related issues have
surfaced during the 110th Congress, as discussed below.
Federal Sentencing Structure48
In 1984, Congress passed legislation that led to the creation of federal
sentencing guidelines. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (Chapter II of the
Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984; P.L. 98-473), in essence, eliminated
indeterminate sentencing at the federal level. The act created the United States
Sentencing Commission (Commission), an independent body within the judicial
branch of the federal government and charged it with promulgating guidelines for
federal sentencing. The purpose of the Commission was to examine unwarranted
disparity in federal sentencing policy, among other things.49 In establishing
sentencing guidelines for federal judges, the Commission took into consideration
factors such as (1) the nature and degree of harm caused by the offense; (2) the
offender’s prior record; (3) public views of the gravity of the offense; (4) the
deterrent effect of a particular sentence; and (5) aggravating or mitigating
circumstances.50 In addition to these factors, the Commission also considered
characteristics of the offender, such as age, education, vocational skills, and mental
or emotional state, among other things.51 Prior to the recent Supreme Court ruling
(U.S. v. Booker, see discussion below), the guidelines were binding, and they were
47 See §637 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (P.L. 108-447).
48 For additional information on this subject, see CRS Report RL32766, Federal Sentencing
Guidelines: Background, Legal Analysis, and Policy Options, by Lisa M. Seghetti and
Alison M. Smith.
49 The Commission was also mandated to examine the effects of sentencing policy upon
prison resources (e.g., overcrowding) and the use of plea bargaining in the federal criminal
50 See 18 U.S.C. §994(c).
51 See 18 U.S.C. §994(d).
also subject to statutory directives, including mandatory minimum penalties for
specific offenses set by Congress.52
On January 12, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment
right to a trial by jury requires that the current federal sentencing guidelines be
advisory, rather than mandatory.53 In doing so, the Court struck down a provision in
law that made the federal sentencing guidelines mandatory,54 as well as a provision
that governed the standards of appellate review of departures from the guidelines.55
In essence, the Court’s ruling gives federal judges discretion in sentencing offenders
by not requiring them to adhere to the guidelines unless the offense carried a
mandatory sentence; rather the guidelines can be used by judges on an advisory
basis.56 As a result of the ruling, judges now have discretion in sentencing
defendants unless the offense carries a mandatory sentence (as specified in the law).
While some view the ruling as an opportunity for federal judges to take into
consideration the circumstances unique to each individual offender, thus handing
down a sentence that better fits the offender, others fear that such discretion may
result in unwarranted disparity and inconsistencies in sentencing across jurisdictions
that led to the enactment of the guidelines in 1984.57
As a result of the ruling, many questioned whether Congress should amend
current law to require federal judges to follow guided sentences, or permit federal
judges to use their discretion in sentencing under certain circumstances. Possible
congressional options include (1) amend the sentencing ranges by increasing the top
of each guideline range to the statutory maximum for each given offense; (2) require
jury trial or defendant waiver for any enhancement factor that would increase the
sentence for which the defendant did not waive his rights; or (3) take no action, thus
permitting judicial discretion in sentencing in cases where Congress has not specified
52 Mandatory minimum sentencing laws are separate from the federal sentencing guidelines.
Over the years, Congress has directed the U.S. Sentencing Commission to integrate
mandatory minimum penalties it has passed into the federal sentencing guidelines.
53 See U.S. v. Booker, 125 S.Ct. 738 (2005).
54 According to the ruling, a provision in current law makes the guidelines binding on all
judges. The provision, 18 U.S.C. §3553(b), requires courts to impose a sentence within the
applicable guidelines range.
55 See 18 U.S.C. §3742(e).
56 While the Court struck down a provision that made the federal sentencing guidelines
mandatory, the Court also noted that current law “... requires judges to take account of the
guidelines together with other sentencing goals.” See 18 U.S.C. §3553(a). The Court also
struck down a provision that governed the standard of appellate review of sentences that
were imposed as a result of a judge’s departure from the guidelines. The Court noted,
however, that current law “... continues to provide for appeals from sentencing decisions
(irrespective of whether the trial judge sentences within or outside the guidelines range).”
See 18 U.S.C. §3742(a),(b).
57 See for example, Erik Luna, “Misguided Guidelines: A Critique of Federal Sentencing,”
Policy Analysis, no. 458, November 1, 2002.
Maintaining the Fugitive Database
On September 18, 2008, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended and
favorably reported (without a written report) the Fugitive Information Networked
Database Act of 2008 (or the FIND Act; S. 3136). This bill would authorize $518
million in additional appropriations to improve state-federal information sharing on
fugitives from justice, increase U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) regional fugitive task
forces (RFTFs) and related activities, and provide extradition assistance to state,
local, and tribal governments.
According to the bill’s findings, approximately half of the nation’s outstanding
felony warrants (between 1.4 and 1.6 million warrants) have not been entered into the
Federal Bureau of Investigation National Crime Information Center (NCIC). These
circumstances result in several public safety issues. One, fugitives who flee to other
states are not being apprehended. Two, often times those fugitives go on to commit
serious crimes in other states. And, three, law enforcement officers who encounter
these fugitives are not informed about the potential danger these fugitives may pose
to themselves or the general public.
According to the bill’s findings, state, local, and tribal governments often fail
to enter such warrants into NCIC because of insufficient funding to upload those
records into NCIC. To remedy that circumstance, S. 3136 would authorize the
Attorney General to provide grants to state, local, and tribal governments, in a
manner consistent with the National Criminal History Improvement Program
(NCHIP), to upgrade their computer systems to more easily enter outstanding
warrants into NCIC and to validate those warrants. For those purposes, the bill would
authorize yearly appropriations of $15 million for FY2009 and FY2010, and $20
million for FY2011. State, local, and tribal governments, moreover, do not always
have the resources to extradite fugitives to stand trial in the jurisdiction where they
were charged with a crime.
To increase resources for the USMS and its RFTFs, S. 3136 would authorize an
additional $50 million in annual appropriations for FY2009 and FY2012, and an
additional $25 million for FY2013-FY2015. The bill would also authorize an
additional $3 million for the USMS and its Justice Prisoner and Alien Transport
System for each fiscal year FY2009-FY2014. Additionally, the bill would authorize
the Attorney General to provide grants to state, local, and tribal governments to
increase fugitive extraditions. For those purposes, the bill would authorize
appropriations of $50 million for each fiscal year FY2009-FY2015.
To gauge the problem of missing felony warrants nationally, S. 3136 includes
a provision that would require the Government Accountability Office to report to
Congress on the issue of missing felony warrants and apprehended fugitives who
were not extradited within 270 days of enactment. The bill would also require states
to report to the Attorney General, and for the Attorney General to report to Congress
on the implementation of the provisions in this bill.
Oversight of DOJ Grant Programs58
DOJ grant programs and appropriations is a perennial issue of oversight for
Congress. In the 109th Congress, the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law
Enforcement Assistance (Byrne Formula) and the Local Law Enforcement Block
Grant (LLEBG) programs were combined to create the Edward Byrne Memorial
Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program. Funding under the JAG program in FYs
2005-2006 was less than the total amount of funding appropriated to the Byrne
Formula program and LLEBG in FYs 1996-2004. Congress has also reduced
appropriations for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) since FY2002.
The JAG and COPS programs are the primary programs for providing federal
assistance to state and local law enforcement and many officials in the law
enforcement communities have expressed concern over the decrease in grant monies
made available to them through the programs. Critics contend, however, that while
these programs have seen a reduction in funding, grant programs geared towards
countering terrorism have seen an increase in funding and state and local law
enforcement agencies are often the recipients of these grants. The Violence Against
Women Act (VAWA) was also reauthorized in the 109th Congress, however, funding
for most of the new VAWA programs created in the reauthorization act did not
Some critics have expressed concern that the decrease in federal funding that
some of these programs have seen in recent years has made it harder for state and
local law enforcement to combat violent crime. Moreover, they argue, that the recent
increase in the national violent crime rate is evidence that the federal government
should place more focus on providing assistance to state and local law enforcement.59
58 For additional information on DOJ grant programs and oversight-related issues, see CRS
Report RL33489, An Overview and Funding History of Select Department of Justice (DOJ)
Grant Programs, by Nathan James.
59 See for example the May 23, 2007 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Rising Crime
in the United States: Examining the Federal Role in Helping Communities Prevent and
Respond to Violent Crime” congressional testimony of the National Sheriff Association’s
President, Ted Kamatchus, [http://www.senate.gov/comm/judiciary/general/testimony.cfm?
Appendix. Selected Crime-Related Legislation
Enacted in the 109th Congress
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (P.L
Legislation was enacted in the 109th Congress that examines more closely
registration and notification law and federal funding for state registration
enforcement. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (H.R. 4472,
as amended; P.L 109-248) was signed into law on July 27, 2006. The act provides
a comprehensive national approach to addressing the issue of sex offenders by
requiring the establishment of a national public registry with information on
individuals convicted of a criminal offense against a minor or on violent predators
who victimize children. The act also tightens registration requirements; provides for
additional mandatory minimum penalties for sex offenders in certain instances;
creates grant programs for states to enhance, operate, or create a civil commitment
program; and creates a civil commitment program at the federal level.
The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice
Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162)61
Department of Justice Reauthorization. The 109th Congress passed
legislation that reauthorizes many of the agencies and programs under DOJ’s
jurisdiction. The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice
Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162) authorizes appropriations for DOJ for
FY2006 through FY2009. Among other provisions, the act codifies the existing
Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, the Executive
Office of Weed and Seed, and the Community Capacity Development Office
(CCDO). Moreover, the act reauthorizes and restructures grant programs under the
Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) and the Violence Against Women
offices and creates an Office of Audit, Assessment and Management.
Consolidation of Certain Office of Justice Programs.62 The structure
of federal funding for state and local law enforcement assistance received
congressional attention during the 109th Congress. While the Administration had
proposed decreasing the funding amounts and reorganizing some of these programs
60 For additional information on sex offender legislation, see CRS Report RL32800, Sex
Offender Registration and Community Notification Law: Enforcement and Other Issues, by
Garrine Laney; and CRS Report RL33967, Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act:
A Legal Analysis, by Charles Doyle.
61 For additional information on P.L. 109-162, see CRS Report RL33111, Department of
Justice Reauthorization: Provisions to Improve Program Management, Compliance, and
Evaluation of Justice Assistance Grants, by Nathan James.
62 For additional information on the JAG program, see CRS Report RS22416, Edward Bryne
Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program: Legislative and Funding History, by Nathan
for several years, it wasn’t until the 108th Congress that two federal grant programs
were consolidated into a newly created program, as discussed briefly below.
For several years, the Administration had proposed consolidating the Edward
Byrne Memorial Formula and Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG)
programs into a new Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG)
program. Congress, however, first considered consolidating the two grant programs
in the 108th Congress. Through an appropriations act (the Consolidated
Appropriations Act, FY2005; P.L. 108-447), the 108th Congress consolidated the
grant programs into a newly created JAG program, and in January 2006, legislation
was enacted that authorizes appropriations for the program through FY2009.63
Overall funding for both programs in the FY2005 appropriations decreased 12% (or
$268 million) from FY2004, and in FY2006, Congress again decreased funding by
$121 million from FY2005.64
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).65 During the 103rd
Congress, legislation was passed that encouraged community policing approaches
(i.e., placing more police officers “on the beat”) for state and local law enforcement
agencies by creating a federal grant program for community policing. Funding for
the newly created Cops on the Beat program (now more commonly known as the
COPS program) was authorized through FY2000. The COPS program provides
assistance to eligible police departments to help improve community policing efforts
and law enforcement support activities. The program requires that at least 85% of
the grant money be used for the following: (1) to hire or rehire police officers; (2)
procure equipment; (3) pay overtime; or (4) build support systems.
The authority for the COPS grant program lapsed at the end of FY2000.
Congress, however, has continued to appropriate funding for the program. The 109th
Congress passed legislation that reauthorizes the program and realigns some of the
COPS activities to other accounts.66
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).67 The original Violence Against
Women Act (VAWA), enacted as Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law
Enforcement Act (P.L. 103-322), became law in 1994. To address violence against
women, VAWA established within DOJ and the Department of Health and Human
Services a number of discretionary grant programs for state, local and Indian tribal
governments. The 109th Congress passed legislation that reauthorizes VAWA (P.L.
109-162). Among other provisions, the act encourages collaboration among law
enforcement, judicial personnel, and public and private sector providers to victims
63 See P.L. 109-162.
64 The Administration’s FY2006 budget request, however, proposed to eliminate the JAG
program, Congress continued to provide appropriations for the program.
65 For additional information on the COPS program, see CRS Report RL33308, Community
Oriented Policing Services (COPS): Background, Legislation, and Issues, by Nathan James.
66 See P.L. 109-162.
67 For additional information on VAWA, see CRS Report RL30871, Violence Against
Women Act: History and Federal Funding, by Garrine P. Laney.
of domestic and sexual violence. It also addresses the special needs of victims of
domestic and sexual violence who are elderly, disabled, children, youth, and
individuals of ethnic and racial communities, including Native Americans. The act
provides emergency leave and long-term transitional housing for victims. The act
makes these provisions gender neutral and requires studies and reports on the
effectiveness of approaches used for certain grants in combating domestic and sexual
The DNA Fingerprinting Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162)
Title X of P.L. 109-162, the DNA Fingerprinting Act of 2005, made several
changes to current law. Among other provisions, the act authorizes federal
authorities to take DNA samples from larger categories of individuals, including
those who are arrested and detained, and include the DNA analysis in the FBI’s
Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The act, however, requires the Director of
the Federal Bureau of Investigation to expunge the DNA analysis from CODIS of
arrestees for whom the Attorney General receives a certified copy of a final court
order that establishes the charge has been dismissed, resulted in an acquittal, or that
no charge was filed within the applicable time period. The act also requires the
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to expunge the DNA analysis from
CODIS of individuals whose convictions have been overturned.