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Lankford, Grassley Move to Help Law Enforcement Prosecute Criminals as Crime Rises around the US

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and 23 Republican colleagues in introducing a broad legislative package to clarify and strengthen violent crime laws related to homicide, bank robbery, carjacking, kidnapping and other offenses. The Combating Violent and Dangerous Crime Act resolves discrepancies brought on by conflicting court decisions and clarifies congressional intent regarding crimes of violence and their respective penalties. Despite an ongoing crime wave, no Democrats have agreed to cosponsor the fixes.

“With our wide open southern border and Democrat leaders being soft on crime, we should update federal law so federal prosecutors have the necessary tools to prosecute crimes like carjackings, bank robberies, and violent kidnappings,” said Lankford. “We also need to set appropriate penalties for individuals who prey on children by making and marketing candy-flavored illegal Schedule Ι drugs like marijuana. These are commonsense reforms, and we stand with law enforcement who are trying to protect law-abiding citizens.”

“Crime is skyrocketing in communities across the country. Carjackings, homicides, attacks on law enforcement are all up. We have a duty to ensure that penalties for federal offenses serve as a deterrent and that any ambiguity from split court decisions is rectified so that perpetrators can be held accountable. This bill includes a number of small fixes that will go a long way in improving justice and preventing future crimes. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have bipartisan support to advance these modest, but meaningful, reforms. American communities are suffering under a scourge of lawlessness, so I hope we get some cooperation soon and I’ll keep reaching across the aisle to get it,” Grassley said.

Many communities across the country continue to experience steadily increasing violent crime. Murder rates increased 30 percent in 2020 and continued climbing in 2021. Carjackings, particularly in urban areas are on the rise, with some cities recording up to 400 percent spikes. Overdose deaths surpassed 100,000 last year, with fentanyl appearing in a variety of substances, including candy-flavored drugs that are marketed to children. 2021 marked the deadliest year for law enforcement since the September 11 attacks in 2001.

The Combating Violent and Dangerous Crime Act addresses ambiguity and conflicting application of existing law by clarifying congressional intent without establishing sweeping new offense categories. Among other provisions, the bill:

  • Clarifies that attempted bank robbery and conspiracy to commit bank robbery are punishable under the current bank robbery statute;
  • Abolishes an outdated rule that prohibits perpetrators of violent crime from being charged with murder if the victim succumbs to injuries sustained by that violent crime 366 days after the attack;
  • Rectifies conflicting circuit court decisions that have resulted in a higher burden to charge offenses like assaulting a police officer than Congress intended;
  • Increases the statutory maximum penalty for carjacking and removes a duplicative intent requirement needed to charge a carjacking offense;
  • Rectifies conflicting circuit court decisions by clarifying that an attempt or conspiracy to commit an offence involving physical force meets the legal definition of a crime of violence;
  • Outlaws the marketing of candy-flavored drugs to minors; and
  • Establishes a new category of violent kidnapping offences, allowing for greater penalties for violent kidnapping.

Lankford and Grassley are joined in introducing the bill by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Thune (R-SD), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Kennedy (R-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

The bill is supported by the National District Attorneys Association, the National Association of Assistant US Attorneys, the National Sheriffs Association, the Major County Sheriffs of America, and the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

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