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Steve Cohen on Crime

Democrat

 


Haley's Law: new criminal offenses on child abuse

Gov. Bredesen joined legislators at the Childhelp USA Children's Center in Knoxville, where he signed Senate Bill 504, also known as "Haley's Law." [Steve Cohen co-sponsored the bill]

The law, which creates new criminal offenses and enhances existing penalties for offenses against children, is named in honor of Haley Spicer, a child abuse survivor.

"This legislation takes the next step in protecting our state's greatest resource and most innocent citizens--our children," Bredesen said.

Source: Gov. Press release on Tennessee voting record SB504 , Aug 2, 2005

Supports death penalty; prosecute violent minors as adults

Source: 2004 TN Congressional National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 2004

End parole for violent offenders, but not victimless crimes

Source: 2004 TN Congressional National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 2004

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

Increase funding for "COPS ON THE BEAT" program.

Cohen 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.

Cohen 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

Sponsored evidence-based & proven prevention for street gangs.

Cohen 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

First step: reduce recidivism & mass incarceration.

Cohen voted YEA First Step Act

Congressional Summary:

Opposing press release from Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1):: The reform sentencing laws in this bill may compromise the safety of our communities. Criminals convicted of violent crimes would have the opportunity to achieve 'low risk' status and become eligible for early release. California already has similar laws in place--Propositions 47 and 57--which have hamstrung law enforcement and caused a significant uptick in crime.

Supporting press release from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10):: S. 756 establishes a new system to reduce the risk that [federal prisoners] will commit crimes once they are released. Critically, S. 756 would not only implement these reforms to our prison system, but it also takes a crucial first step toward addressing grave concerns about our sentencing laws, which have for years fed a national crisis of mass incarceration. The bill is a 'first step' that demonstrates that we can work together to make the system fairer in ways that will also reduce crime and victimization.

Legislative outcome: Concurrence Passed Senate, 87-12-1, on Dec. 18, 2018; Concurrence Passed House 358-36-28, Dec. 20, 2018; President Trump signed, Dec. 21, 2018

Source: Congressional vote 18-S756 on Dec 20, 2018

Easier access to rape kits, and more rape kit analysis.

Cohen signed easier access to rape kits, and more rape kit analysis

    Congress finds the following:
  1. Rape is a serious problem.
  2. In 2006, there were an estimated 261,000 rapes and sexual assaults.
  3. The collection and testing of DNA evidence is a critical tool in solving rape cases.
  4. Despite the availability of funding under the Debbie Smith Act of 2004, there exists a significant rape kit backlog.
  5. A 1999 study estimated that there was an annual backlog of 180,000 rape kits that had not been analyzed.
  6. No agency regularly collects information regarding the scope of the rape kit backlog.
  7. Certain States cap reimbursement for rape kits at levels that are less than 1/2 the average cost of a rape kit.
  8. There is a lack of health professionals who have received specialized training specific to sexual assault victims.
The purpose of this Act is to address the problems surrounding forensic evidence collection in cases of sexual assault, including rape kit backlogs, reimbursement for or free provision of rape kits, and the availability of trained health professionals to administer rape kit examinations.

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS:

Sen. FRANKEN: Last year, 90,000 people were raped. Thanks to modern technology, we have an unparalleled tool to bring sexual predators to justice: forensic DNA analysis. Rape kit DNA evidence is survivors' best bet for justice. Unfortunately, we have failed to make adequate use of DNA analysis. In 2004, then-Sen. Biden and others worked to pass the Debbie Smith Act, a law named after a rape survivor whose backlogged rape kit was tested six years after her assault. Unfortunately, because many localities simply did not use the Debbie Smith funds they were allocated, the promise of the Debbie Smith Act remains unfulfilled.

In 2009, Los Angeles had 12,500 untested rape kits; Houston found at least 4,000 untested rape kits in storage, and Detroit reported a backlog of possibly 10,000 kits. Those are just three cities. Hundreds of thousands of women have not seen justice.

Source: Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault (S2736&HR4114) 2009-S2736 on Nov 5, 2009

Rated 92% by the NAPO, indicating a tough-on-crime stance.

Cohen scores 92% by the NAPO on crime & police issues

Ratings by the National Association of Police Organizations indicate support or opposition to issues of importance to police and crime. The organization's self-description: "The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) is a coalition of police units and associations from across the United States. NAPO was organized for the purpose of advancing the interests of America's law enforcement officers through legislative advocacy, political action, and education.

"Increasingly, the rights and interests of law enforcement officers have been the subject of legislative, executive, and judicial action in the nation’s capital. NAPO works to influence the course of national affairs where law enforcement interests are concerned. The following list includes examples of NAPO’s accomplishments:

VoteMatch scoring for the NAPO ratings is as follows:

Source: NAPO ratings on Congress and politicians 2014_NAPO on Dec 31, 2014

Sponsored stricter rules for police accountability.

Cohen co-sponsored George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

This bill addresses policing practices and law enforcement accountability:

Rep. Elise Stefanik in OPPOSITION (3/1/21): I voted against H.R. 1280--this bill poses a grave danger to law-abiding police officers, as it would eliminate qualified immunity protections, lower the standard for federal civil rights lawsuits, and limit access to necessary equipment during emergencies and natural disasters. Democrats rushed this bill to the House Floor without accepting any input from Republicans, expert testimony, or significant data. I am proud to sponsor the JUSTICE Act with Senator Tim Scott, to provide necessary reforms to end police brutality while protecting our law-abiding officers.

OnTheIssues explanation of "qualified immunity": "Qualified immunity" means that police officers (and other government officials) cannot be sued for actions on duty, unless knowingly taking unreasonable actions. This bill would limit "qualified immunity," which means the family in cases like George Floyd's could sue the police for civil damages.

Biden Administration in SUPPORT (3/1/21): We must begin by rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the people they are entrusted to serve and protect. We cannot rebuild that trust if we do not hold police officers accountable for abuses of power and tackle systemic misconduct--and systemic racism--in police departments.

Legislative Outcome: Passed House 220-212-0 on March 3, 2021, rollcall #60; received in Senate on March 9; no further Senate action during 2021.

Source: H.R.1280 21-HR1280 on Feb 24, 2021

2021-22 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Crime: Steve Cohen on other issues:
TN Gubernatorial:
Bill Haslam
Bill Lee
Carnita Atwater
David French
Diane Black
JB Smiley
Karl Dean
Mark Green
TN Senatorial:
Bill Hagerty
Bob Corker
James Mackler
Lamar Alexander
Larry Crim
Manny Sethi
Marquita Bradshaw
Marsha Blackburn
Phil Bredesen
Stephen Fincher
Republican Freshman class of 2021:
AL-1: Jerry Carl(R)
AL-2: Barry Moore(R)
CA-8: Jay Obernolte(R)
CA-50: Darrell Issa(R)
CO-3: Lauren Boebert(R)
FL-3: Kat Cammack(R)
FL-15: Scott Franklin(R)
FL-19: Byron Donalds(R)
GA-9: Andrew Clyde(R)
GA-14: Marjorie Taylor Greene(R)
IA-2: Mariannette Miller-Meeks(R)
IA-4: Randy Feenstra(R)
IL-15: Mary Miller(R)
IN-5: Victoria Spartz(R)
KS-1: Tracey Mann(R)
KS-2: Jake LaTurner(R)
LA-5: Luke Letlow(R)
MI-3: Peter Meijer(R)
MI-10: Lisa McClain(R)
MT-0: Matt Rosendale(R)
NC-11: Madison Cawthorn(R)
NM-3: Teresa Leger Fernandez(D)
NY-2: Andrew Garbarino(R)
NY-22: Claudia Tenney(R)
OR-2: Cliff Bentz(R)
PR-0: Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon(R)
TN-1: Diana Harshbarger(R)
TX-4: Pat Fallon(R)
TX-11: August Pfluger(R)
TX-13: Ronny Jackson(R)
TX-17: Pete Sessions(R)
TX-22: Troy Nehls(R)
TX-23: Tony Gonzales(R)
TX-24: Beth Van Duyne(R)
UT-1: Blake Moore(R)
VA-5: Bob Good(R)
WI-5: Scott Fitzgerald(R)
Incoming Democratic Freshman class of 2021:
CA-53: Sara Jacobs(D)
GA-5: Nikema Williams(D)
GA-7: Carolyn Bourdeaux(D)
HI-2: Kai Kahele(D)
IL-3: Marie Newman(D)
IN-1: Frank Mrvan(D)
MA-4: Jake Auchincloss(D)
MO-1: Cori Bush(D)
NC-2: Deborah Ross(D)
NC-6: Kathy Manning(D)
NY-15: Ritchie Torres(D)
NY-16: Jamaal Bowman(D)
NY-17: Mondaire Jones(D)
WA-10: Marilyn Strickland(D)

Republican takeovers as of 2021:
CA-21: David Valadao(R) defeated T.J. Cox(D)
CA-39: Young Kim(R) defeated Gil Cisneros(D)
CA-48: Michelle Steel(R) defeated Harley Rouda(D)
FL-26: Carlos Gimenez(R) defeated Debbie Mucarsel-Powell(D)
FL-27: Maria Elvira Salazar(R) defeated Donna Shalala(D)
IA-1: Ashley Hinson(R) defeated Abby Finkenauer(D)
MN-7: Michelle Fischbach(R) defeated Collin Peterson(D)
NM-2: Yvette Herrell(R) defeated Xochitl Small(D)
NY-11: Nicole Malliotakis(R) defeated Max Rose(D)
OK-5: Stephanie Bice(R) defeated Kendra Horn(D)
SC-1: Nancy Mace(R) defeated Joe Cunningham(D)
UT-4: Burgess Owens(R) defeated Ben McAdams(D)

Special Elections 2021-2022:
CA-22: replacing Devin Nunes (R, SPEL summer 2022)
FL-20: replacing Alcee Hastings (D, SPEL Jan. 2022)
LA-2: Troy Carter (R, April 2021)
LA-5: Julia Letlow (R, March 2021)
NM-1: Melanie Stansbury (D, June 2021)
OH-11: Shontel Brown (D, Nov. 2021)
OH-15: Mike Carey (R, Nov. 2021)
TX-6: Jake Ellzey (R, July 2021)
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Page last updated: Feb 15, 2022