Friday, February 09, 2007

Congressman Goodlatte: Protecting Our Communities from Violent Crime

From Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-6th District)
February 9, 2007

A recent statistic shows a nearly 4% increase in violent crimes, with the murder, robbery and aggravated assault rates all experiencing an increase. And in less than half of all violent crime cases, a suspect was arrested. These figures are truly disturbing and something must be done. That is why I was pleased to join my Republican colleagues from the House Judiciary Committee in announcing the introduction of a bold new legislative package aimed at protecting innocent Americans from violent crimes, such as gang violence, drug trafficking and child pornography.

The first key component of our legislative package is the Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act or “The Gangbusters Bill” which will encourage partnerships across all levels of government to combat the growth of gang activity in our nation.

Gang membership has escalated to approximately 850,000 with 25,000 gangs operating in communities all across the country. Gang activity has been directly linked to the proliferation of illegal drugs, human trafficking, identification document falsification, violent maiming and assault, and the use of firearms to commit shootings and murders. Gang violence and activity is no longer confined to big cities; it has already spread to smaller cities and rural areas, such as the Shenandoah Valley, Roanoke and Lynchburg.

The Gangbusters bill, which passed the House overwhelming last Congress only to stall in the Senate, authorizes increased funding to support federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts against violent gangs and coordinate agencies’ efforts to share intelligence and jointly investigate gangs. It also increases the penalties for violations. Most of these gangs have many illegal immigrants as members and cracking down on illegal immigration and strongly enforcing our immigration laws is also badly needed in the fight against gang violence.

In addition to fighting gang activity, the legislative package we introduced includes legislation to increase the criminal penalties for trafficking drugs, such as methamphetamine, commonly known as “meth”.

Meth is a serious and growing problem. The ease with which meth can be produced from common household items and its highly addictive nature have led to the rapid proliferation of meth labs across the United States, including our region.

The consumption of meth threatens the lives of those who use it. The production of meth is extremely dangerous as well. It leaves behind hazardous waste and does not discriminate between producers and their innocent children, who are often exposed to the toxic waste products. We must meet the increase in meth production and use with tactics and resources sufficient to effectively combat the problem and I believe that by increasing criminal penalties we can help deter would be criminals.

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