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John Conyers on Crime

Democratic Representative (MI-14)


Voted YES on enforcing against anti-gay hate crimes.

Congressional Summary:Adopts the definition of "hate crime" as set forth in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994: a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person. Provides technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of hate crimes, including financial grant awards.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. JOHN CONYERS (D, MI-14):This bill expands existing Federal hate crimes law to groups who are well-known targets for bias-based violence--they are sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. These crimes of violence are directed not just at those who are directly attacked; they are targeting the entire group with the threat of violence.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LAMAR SMITH (R, TX-21): Every year thousands of violent crimes are committed out of hate, but just as many violent crimes, if not more, are motivated by something other than hate--greed, jealousy, desperation or revenge, just to name a few. An individual's motivation for committing a violent crime is usually complex and often speculative. Every violent crime is deplorable, regardless of its motivation. That's why all violent crimes should be vigorously prosecuted. Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system--equal justice for all. Under this bill, justice will no longer be equal. Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim. It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime. This is the real injustice.

Reference: Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act; Bill HR.1913 ; vote number 2009-H223 on Apr 2, 2009

Voted YES on expanding services for offenders' re-entry into society.

H.R.1593: Second Chance Act of 2007: Community Safety Through Recidivism Prevention or the Second Chance Act (Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass). To reauthorize the grant program for reentry of offenders into the community in the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and to improve reentry planning and implementation.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. CONYERS: Some 650,000 men and women are leaving the Federal and State prisons each year. While the vast majority of the prisoners are committed to abiding by the law and becoming productive members of society, they often encounter the same pressures & temptations that they faced before prison. More than two-thirds of them are arrested for new crimes within 3 years of their release. This exacts a terrible cost in financial terms as well as in human terms. The Second Chance Act will help provide these men and women with the training, counseling and other support needed to help them obtain & hold steady jobs; to kick their drug and alcohol habits; rebuild their families; and deal with the many other challenges that they face in their efforts to successfully rejoin society.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. GOHMERT: The programs that are sought to be renewed are ones we don't have information on how successful they were. I can tell you from my days as a judge, there was some anecdotal evidence that it looked like faith-based programs did a better job of dramatically reducing recidivism. In addition:

Reference: Second Chance Act; Bill HR1593 ; vote number 2007-1083 on Nov 13, 2007

Voted YES on funding for alternative sentencing instead of more prisons.

Vote on an amendment that would reduce the funding for violent offender imprisonment by and truth-in-sentencing programs by $61 million. The measure would increase funding for Boys and Girls Clubs and drug courts by the same amount.
Reference: Amendment sponsored by Scott, D-VA; Bill HR 4690 ; vote number 2000-317 on Jun 22, 2000

Voted NO on more prosecution and sentencing for juvenile crime.

Vote to pass a bill to appropriate $1.5 billion to all of the states that want to improve their juvenile justice operations. Among other provisions this bill includes funding for development, implementation, and administration of graduated sanctions for juvenile offenders, funds for building, expanding, or renovating juvenile corrections facilities, hiring juvenile judges, probation officers, and additional prosecutors for juvenile cases.
Reference: Bill introduced by McCollum, R-FL; Bill HR 1501 ; vote number 1999-233 on Jun 17, 1999

Voted YES on maintaining right of habeas corpus in Death Penalty Appeals.

Vote on an amendment to delete provisions in the bill that would make it harder for prisoners who have been given the death penalty in state courts to appeal the decision on constitutional grounds in the federal courts ['Habeas Corpus'].
Bill HR 2703 ; vote number 1996-64 on Mar 14, 1996

Voted NO on making federal death penalty appeals harder.

Vote on a bill to make it harder for prisoners who have been given the death penalty in state courts to appeal the decision on constitutional grounds in the federal courts.
Bill HR 729 ; vote number 1995-109 on Feb 8, 1995

Voted YES on replacing death penalty with life imprisonment.

Amendment to replace death penalty crimes in the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill with life imprisonment.
Bill HR 4092 ; vote number 1994-107 on Apr 14, 1994

Rated 100% by CURE, indicating pro-rehabilitation crime votes.

Conyers scores 100% 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

Moratorium on death penalty; more DNA testing.

Conyers co-sponsored a bill limiting capital punishment:

H.R. 1038, S.233:

To place a moratorium on executions by the Federal Government and urge the States to do the same, while a National Commission on the Death Penalty reviews the fairness of the imposition of the death penalty .
S.486 & H.R.912:
To reduce the risk that innocent persons may be executed [by examining DNA evidence more thoroughly].
Source: H.R.912 01-HR1038 on Mar 7, 2001

More funding and stricter sentencing for hate crimes.

Conyers wrote 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

Require DNA testing for all federal executions.

Conyers co-sponsored the Innocence Protection Act:

Title: To reduce the risk that innocent persons may be executed.

    Summary: Authorizes a person convicted of a Federal crime to apply for DNA testing to support a claim that the person did not commit:

  1. the Federal crime of which the person was convicted; or

  2. any other offense that a sentencing authority may have relied upon when it sentenced the person with respect to such crime.

  3. Prohibits a State from denying an application for DNA testing made by a prisoner in State custody who is under sentence of death if specified conditions apply.

  4. Provides grants to prosecutors for DNA testing programs.

  5. Establishes the National Commission on Capital Representation.

  6. Withholds funds from States not complying with standards for capital representation.

  7. Provides for capital defense incentive grants and resource grants.

  8. Increases compensation in Federal cases, and sets forth provisions regarding compensation in State cases, where an individual is unjustly sentenced to death.

  9. Adds a certification requirement in Federal death penalty prosecutions.

  10. Expresses the sense of Congress regarding the execution of juvenile offenders and the mentally retarded.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR912 on Mar 7, 2001

Establish a domestic violence volunteer attorney network.

Conyers introduced 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.

Conyers 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.

Conyers 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

Abolish the federal death penalty.

Conyers co-sponsored Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act

Congressional Summary:

OnTheIssues Notes: This bill affects only the FEDERAL death penalty, not STATE death penalties. The death penalty is currently implemented in 34 states. It was re-legalized by a Supreme Court decision in 1977, for both state and federal executions. Since then, 1,278 people have been executed, but only 3 of those have been federal executions. About 3,250 inmates remain on 'Death Row,' and 61 for federal death row. Texas is by far the national leader in executions--it has executed 477 people as of Jan. 2012, 37% of the national total. (Virginia is a very distant second with 109). In other words, this bill is largely symbolic, unless states followed the federal abolition.

Source: H.R.3051 11-H3051 on Sep 23, 2011

Sponsored evidence-based & proven prevention for street gangs.

Conyers co-sponsored Youth PROMISE Act

Congressional Summary:Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education Act or the Youth Promise Act:

Opponent's argument against bill: (Dissenting views on

Source: H.R.1318 13-H1318 on Mar 21, 2013

Sponsored providing defense lawyers for all indigent defendants.

Conyers co-sponsored House Resolution on court policy

    Now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives--
  1. supports the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution, the right to counsel; and
  2. supports strategies to improve the criminal justice system to ensure that indigent defendants in all felony cases are ade
    Source: H.RES.196 13-HRes196 on May 3, 2013

    Stricter sentencing for hate crimes.

    Conyers co-sponsored stricter sentencing for hate crimes

    Congressional Summary:

    Proponents' Argument in Favor:Rep. SENSENBRENNER. This bill does not create a new Federal crime. Nothing that is presently not criminal now would be made criminal as a result of enactment. What enactment of H.R. 1152 will do is provide for enhanced criminal penalties for certain specifically designated hate crimes. As used in the bill, the term hate crime is defined as a Federal crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation of the person. Hate crimes are more serious offenses and often result in a greater level of injury to the victim and to society.

    Source: Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act (H.R.1152) 1993-H1152 on Mar 1, 1993

    2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Crime: John Conyers on other issues:
    MI Gubernatorial:
    Jennifer Granholm
    Mark Schauer
    Rick Snyder
    MI Senatorial:
    Debbie Stabenow
    Gary Peters
    Matt Wiedenhoeft
    Terri Lynn Land

    Left 113th Congress, 2013-2014:
    AL-1: Jo Bonner(R,resigned)
    FL-13:Bill Young(R,deceased)
    FL-19:Trey Radel(R,arrested)
    IL-2: Jesse L. Jackson(D,convicted)
    LA-5: Rodney Alexander(R,resigned)
    MA-5: Ed Markey(D,elected)
    MO-8: Jo Ann Emerson(R,resigned)
    NC-12:Mel Watt(D,appointed)
    NJ-1: Rob Andrews(D,investigated)
    SC-1: Tim Scott(R,appointed)

    Newly-elected special elections 2013-2014:
    AL-1: Bradley Byrne(R)
    FL-13:David Jolly(R)
    FL-19:Curt Clawson(R)
    IL-2: Robin Kelly(D)
    LA-5: Vance McAllister(R)
    MA-5: Katherine Clark(D)
    MO-8: Jason Smith(R)
    NC-12: Pending Jul.15
    NJ-1: Pending Nov.4
    SC-1: Mark Sanford(R)
    Won primary 2014:
    TX-4: John Ratcliffe(R)
    VA-7: Dave Brat(R)

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    AR-4: Tom Cotton(R)
    CO-4: Cory Gardner(R)
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    IA-1: Bruce Braley(D)
    LA-6: Bill Cassidy(R)
    MI-14:Gary Peters(D)
    MT-0: Steve Daines(R)
    OK-5: James Lankford(R)
    TX-36:Steve Stockman(R)
    WV-2: Shelley Moore Capito(R)

    Former Reps running for House in 2014:
    AL-5: Parker Griffith(R)
    CA-3: Doug Ose(R)
    GA-11:Bob Barr(R)
    CA-31:Joe Baca(D)
    IL-10:Bob Dold(R)
    IL-17:Bobby Schilling(R)
    MS-4: Gene Taylor(D)
    MT-0: Denny Rehberg(R)
    NH-1: Frank Guinta(R)
    NY-11:Vito Fossella(R)
    NY-18:Nan Hayworth(R)
    OH-7: John Boccieri(D)
    PA-13:Marjorie Margolies(D)
    TX-23:Francisco Canseco(R)
    Lost primary 2014:
    TX-4: Ralph Hall(R)
    VA-7: Eric Cantor(R)

    Retiring to run for State Office in 2014:
    AR-2: Tim Griffin(R)
    CA-35:Gloria McLeod(D)
    ME-2: Mike Michaud(D)
    PA-13:Allyson Schwartz(D)
    VI-0: Donna Christensen(D)

    Retiring effective Jan. 2015:
    AL-6: Spencer Bachus(R)
    AZ-7: Ed Pastor(D)
    CA-11:George Miller(D)
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