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States Face Jail Release Penalties

July 11, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ States that release murderers, rapists or child molesters who then commit similar crimes would have their federal funding cut under a bill approved by the House Tuesday.

The measure would transfer $100,000 in federal law enforcement funds from the state that released the criminal to the state where he or she committed the new crime. The bill was passed by voice vote and sent to the Senate.

The intent of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., is to get states to impose sentences of at least life without parole for murderers, rapists and child molesters.

``The victims in these crimes don’t get a second chance. Why should these criminals?″ Salmon asked.

Critics said the measure would create a cumbersome bureaucracy and have little impact on crime. The funding penalty would not apply to criminals who served more than 85 percent of their sentences in states with ``truth in sentencing″ laws requiring criminals to serve most or all of their sentences.

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., said that means the bill would not apply to criminals released from prisons in 30 states.

``The goal is laudable, but this stupid, dumb process that this bill puts in place ... is simple-minded,″ said Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C.

The bill has been dubbed ``Aimee’s Law″ after Aimee Willard of Brookhaven, Pa., a student at George Mason University in Virginia. She was murdered in suburban Philadelphia in 1996. Arthur Bomar, who had been released from a Nevada prison after serving 12 years for another murder, was convicted of killing her and sentenced to death.

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