Mel Watt on Crime
Democratic Representative (NC-12)
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;
; 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;
; vote number 2007-1083
on Nov 13, 2007
- There are some provisions that allow for too much administration. That is going to build a bigger bureaucracy.
- Dismissing all charges if someone completes drug rehab under another provision I think is outrageous. You are going to remove the hammer that would allow you to keep people in line?
- We also have a provision to teach inmates how they can go about getting the most welfare before they leave prison and go out on their own.
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.
Watt 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
The ratings indicate the legislatorís percentage score on CUREís preferred votes.
Source: CURE website 00n-CURE on Dec 31, 2000
- to use prisons only for those who have to be in them; and
- for those who have to be in them, to provide them all the rehabilitative opportunities they need to turn their lives around.
Moratorium on death penalty; more DNA testing.
Watt 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
- H. R. 912, 3/7/2001, Innocence Protection Act of 2001 (Delahunt, et. al.)
- S.486, 3/7/2001, Innocence Protection Act of 2001 (Leahy, et. al.)
- H.R.1038, 3/15/2001, National Death Penalty Moratorium Act of 2001 (Jackson (IL), Rodriguez, Clay, Hoeffel, Jackson-Lee (TX))
- S.233, 1/31/2001, National Death Penalty Moratorium Act of 2001 (Feingold, Levin, Wellstone, Corzine)
Require DNA testing for all federal executions.
Watt 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:
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR912 on Mar 7, 2001
- the Federal crime of which the person was convicted; or
- any other offense that a sentencing authority may have relied upon when it sentenced the person with respect to such crime.
- 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.
- Provides grants to prosecutors for DNA testing programs.
- Establishes the National Commission on Capital Representation.
- Withholds funds from States not complying with standards for capital representation.
- Provides for capital defense incentive grants and resource grants.
- Increases compensation in Federal cases, and sets forth provisions regarding compensation in State cases, where an individual is unjustly sentenced to death.
- Adds a certification requirement in Federal death penalty prosecutions.
- Expresses the sense of Congress regarding the execution of juvenile offenders and the mentally retarded.
Reduce recidivism by giving offenders a Second Chance.
Watt co-sponsored reducing recidivism by giving offenders a Second Chance
Recidivism Reduction and Second Chance Act of 2007Legislative Outcome: Became Public Law No: 110-199.
Source: Second Chance Act (S.1060/H.R.1593) 08-S1060 on Mar 29, 2007
- Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to expand provisions for adult and juvenile offender state and local reentry demonstration projects to provide expanded services to offenders and their families for reentry into society.
- Directs the Attorney General to award grants for:
- state and local reentry courts;
- Comprehensive and Continuous Offender Reentry Task Forces;
- pharmacological drug treatment services to incarcerated offenders;
- technology career training for offenders;
- mentoring services for reintegrating offenders into the community;
- pharmacological drug treatment services to incarcerated offenders;
- prison-based family treatment programs for incarcerated parents of minor children; and
- a study of parole or post-incarceration supervision violations and revocations.
Facilitate recovering crime victim restitution fees.
Watt co-sponsored Crime Victim Restitution and Court Fee Intercept Act
Source: HR1416/S755 11-H1416 on Apr 7, 2011
- Requires the chief justice of the highest court of any state that wishes to collect past-due, legally enforceable state judicial debts to designate a single state entity to communicate judicial debt information to the Secretary of the Treasury.
- Directs the Secretary, upon receiving notice from such an entity that a named person owes a past-due, legally enforceable state judicial debt, to pay such debt from any tax refund due to such person.
- Defines "state judicial debt" to include court costs, fees, fines, assessments, restitution to victims of crime, and other monies resulting from a judgment or sentence rendered by any court or tribunal of competent jurisdiction handling criminal or traffic cases in the state.
Sponsored evidence-based & proven prevention for street gangs.
Watt co-sponsored Youth PROMISE Act
Congressional Summary:Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education Act or the Youth Promise Act:
- Establish a PROMISE Advisory Panel to assess and develop standards and evidence-based practices to prevent juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang activity.
- Collect data to assess the needs and existing resources for juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang activity prevention and intervention.
- Implement PROMISE plans, developed by local PROMISE Coordinating Councils (PCCs), for coordinating and supporting the delivery of juvenile delinquency and gang prevention and intervention programs in local communities.
- Establishes a National Research Center for Proven Juvenile Justice Practices to provide PCCs and the public with research and other information about evidence-based practices related to juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang prevention or intervention.
Awards grants to institutions of higher education to serve as regional research partners with PCCs that are located in the same geographic region as the educational institution.
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.
Watt co-sponsored House Resolution on court policy
Congressional RESOLUTION supporting the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution, the right to counsel.
- WHEREAS on March 18, 1963, the Supreme Court recognized in Gideon v. Wainwright that counsel must be provided to indigent defendants in all felony cases;
- WHEREAS the Supreme Court held that providing counsel to indigent defendants in all felony cases meets the essential requirements of the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution; and
- WHEREAS the Supreme Court held in Argersinger v. Hamlin that absent a knowing and intelligent waiver, no person may be imprisoned for any offense, whether classified as petty, misdemeanor, or felony, unless they were represented by counsel at their trial:
Now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives--
- supports the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution, the right to counsel; and
- 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
Rated 23% by the NAPO, indicating a police-the-police stance.
Watt scores 23% 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 nationís capital. NAPO works to influence the course of national affairs where law enforcement interests are concerned. The following list includes examples of NAPOís accomplishments:
- Enactment of the Fair Sentencing Act
- Enactment of the National AMBER Alert Act
- Enactment of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
- Enactment of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act
- Enactment of the Law Enforcement Officers' Safety Act (Right to Carry Legislation)
VoteMatch scoring for the NAPO ratings is as follows:
Source: NAPO ratings on Congress and politicians 2014_NAPO on Dec 31, 2014
- 0%-50%: soft on crime and police issues;
- 50%-75%: mixed record on crime and police issues;
- 75%-100%: tough on crime and police issues.
Page last updated: Feb 25, 2016