Today, Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith announced that the House of Representatives passed H.R. 894, “Aimee’s Law”, legislation he has co-sponsored and worked to pass for nearly three years.
“This bill encourages states to keep the most violent and dangerous criminals off the streets,” said Smith, a former prosecutor for the City of Seattle. “I am pleased that the House has finally passed this important bill.”
Last year, the House passed the measure as an amendment to H.R. 1501, the Child Safety and Protection Act, but the Senate has not yet acted on that bill.
H.R. 894 would create a financial incentive for states to hold violent criminals instead of releasing them to commit more crimes. If a state releases an individual convicted of murder, rape, or a dangerous sexual offense involving a child under the age of 14 and that individual then commits one of those violent crimes again in another state, the first state is liable for the costs of apprehension, prosecution, and incarceration.
The bill is named in honor of Aimee Willard, a former student at George Mason University who was raped and murdered in Pennsylvania by Arthur Bomar in 1996. Bomar, who had been convicted of murder in Nevada, was released from prison despite a history of violence. Smith is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 894.
“The average time served for rape is currently only five and a half years,” Smith said. “The woman who is raped by a criminal after he gets out of prison suffers life-long consequences. This legislation will also place consequences on criminals and the states who prematurely release them.”
Two years ago, a Tacoma woman testified before a congressional committee in support of the legislation. Mary Vincent was brutally attacked in California by a violent criminal and suffered serious lifelong consequences. Ms. Vincent moved to Gig Harbor and then Tacoma. After she heard that her attacker had been released from San Quentin after serving only eight years, she barricaded herself in her house and became anorexic and bulimic. In February of 1997, her attacker killed a Florida woman. Ms. Vincent testified at her attacker’s sentencing, and he was sent to death row. Ms. Vincent is one of the many victims and victims’ rights advocates, including Marc Klaas whose daughter Polly was kidnapped and murdered in 1993, who has come out in support of this legislation.
It is also endorsed by a broad group of organizations, including the National Fraternal Order of Police , Mothers Against Gangs, The Women’s Coalition, the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, and Kids Safe.