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Arlen Specter on Crime

Republican Sr Senator (PA)


Toughen sentences for career criminals

On crime, Specter pointed to his support for bills to toughen sentences for career criminals, while Sestak said he would support an extension of the ban on assault weapons, which Specter opposed.
Source: Lehigh Valley Live coverage of 2010 PA Senate debate May 1, 2010

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 YES 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 YES 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 63% by CURE, indicating mixed votes on rehabilitation.

Specter scores 63% 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

More funding and stricter sentencing for hate crimes.

Specter 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

Establish a domestic violence volunteer attorney network.

Specter co-sponsored establishing a domestic violence volunteer attorney network

National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network Act - Authorizes grants to the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence to work in collaboration with the American Bar Association Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and other organizations to create, recruit lawyers for, and provide training, mentoring, and technical assistance for a National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network.

Requires the Office on Violence Against Women of the Department of Justice to designate five states in which to implement the pilot program of a National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Referral Project and distribute funds under this Act.

Directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study and report to Congress on the scope and quality of legal representation and advocacy for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, including the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services.

Source: Domestic Violence Attorney Network Act (S.1515/H.R.6088) 07-S1515 on May 24, 2007

Increase funding for "COPS ON THE BEAT" program.

Specter 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.

Specter 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

Other candidates on Crime: Arlen Specter on other issues:
PA Gubernatorial:
Ed Rendell
PA Senatorial:
Bob Casey
Joe Sestak
Pat Toomey

Newly appointed in 2009;
special election in 2010:

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Page last updated: Oct 28, 2010