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III. New Community -
"I made a commitment, a promise to put 100,000 more police on our streets, becausethere is simply no better crime fighting tool to be found. And I intend to keep that promise. Anyone on Capitol Hill who wants to play partisan politics with police officers for America should listen carefully: I will veto any effort to repeal or undermine the 100,000 police commitment, period. "
-- President Clinton February 11, 1995
The Toughest, Smartest Crime Bill in History
Breaking Gridlock. In 1994, after more than 6 years of gridlock, a bipartisan majority in Congress passed the smartest, toughest crime bill in the nation's history -- The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
Unprecedented Support.The Crime Bill passed with the strong support of every major law enforcement organization in the country, as well as prosecutors, mayors, county executives and other state and local officials of both parties.
Cut and Invest. The Crime Bill was paid for by cutting the federal bureaucracy by more than 250,000 people over five years. By using the savings to give states and localities the tools and resources they need to fight crime, the Crime Bill signaled the dawn of a new day in Washington.
Under Budget and Ahead of Schedule. And by cutting the red tape and implementing the new law in as simple, non-bureaucratic and non-political a manner as possible, support for the Crime Bill has become even more broad-based and bipartisan.
Crime Bill's Four Point Plan
More Police and Community Policing
Law enforcement experts agree that the single most important thing we can do to reduce crimeis to put more police on the street. The President's plan to put 100,000 more police on the street in community policing represents the federal government's biggest commitment ever to local law enforcement -- $8.8 billion -- or an almost 20% increase in the nation's police force levels.
This plan is working. Half the nation's law enforcement agencies -- from jurisdictions of all sizes throughout the country -- have received grants to hire nearly 17,000 new police officers.
Tougher Penalties and More Prison Space
The Crime Bill includes tough new punishments and more prison cells to help keep criminals behind bars. It includes:
-- a targeted three strikes and you're out provision to keep career violent offenders behind bars for life; -- the death penalty for the murder of a federal law enforcement officer and other heinous crimes -- increased penalties for sex offenders and a registration requirement for sexually violent offenders; -- $7.9 billion for 100,000 more prison cells to help states make sure that violent offenders serve their full sentences; and -- $1.9 billion to helps states pay for the costs of incarcerating criminal aliens.
Tough, Smart Strategy on Youth Crime
Youth crime and violence is at the heart of America's current crime crisis. While overall crime rates have been dropping, kids today are increasingly the perpetrators --and the victims -- of some of society's most violent crimes.
Be Firm. The Crime Bill sends a strong no gangs, guns and drugs message to the 6% of young criminals who commit a majority of serious crimes. It bans handguns for juveniles; creates stiff penalties for crime-committing gang members; establishes Boot Camps and Drug Courts to discipline first-time, non-violent and drug offenders; and provides for hardened young criminals -- as young as 13-years-old -- to be tried as adults.
Be Smart. But the Crime Bill also reinforces the difference between right and wrong by giving at-risk kids positive alternatives to say yes to. It invests billions of dollars for after-school, weekend and summer programs for at risk youth; prevention block grants; and other efforts that provide kids with safe havens and teach them the dangers of drugs, gangs and guns.
Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Criminals
In 1993, Congress passed the Brady Bill to provide for a 5-day waiting period and background check of prospective handgun buyers. On the books for 1-year now, the Brady Law has stopped tens of thousands of fugitives, felons and other prohibited buyers from purchasing handguns. The Crime Bill provides funds to help states update their criminal history records.
The Crime Bill also includes a ban on the 19 deadliest assault weapons and their copies, but specifically protects more than 650 legitimate sporting weapons. Cop-killing assault weapons, like the Uzi and the TEC-10, are the weapons of choice for drug dealers, gangs and terrorists -- not hunters and sportsmen.
Move Forward, Not Backward
Unfortunately, the new majority in Congress wants to undo last year's Crime Bill. They want to scrap the President's 100,000 more police plan, delete every single prevention program and repeal the hard-fought ban on assault weapons. Nothing could be more offensive to law enforcement professionals, state and local officials and ordinary Americans than turning back the clock on crime -- and reverting back to the days of more political rhetoric.
Certainly there's much more we can do to reduce crime and violence -- and we must. Crime continues to be the number one concern for millions of working families. But we need to put new ideas on the table and work to do more -- not less -- for the American people.