STRENGTHENING PROTECTIONS FOR OUR CHILDREN
It has become almost commonplace to turn on the evening news or visit an online news source and see the headlines detailing a terrible crime involving a child. While most of us shudder at the thought of harming a child, each year hundreds of thousands of children are victims of abuse, neglect, or violence. In addition, we've seen an increase in crimes against public safety officers such as judges, jurors, prosecutors and their families.
It is time that we take back our communities and strengthen protections for our children and those who serve the public interest.
Recently, with my support, the House passed the Children's Safety and Violent Crime Reduction Act, which strengthens protections for our children and public safety officers as well as combats and prevents gang violence. Violence has no place in our communities and this bill will help us protect the most vulnerable among us.
Some estimates indicate that more than 500,000 convicted sex offenders live in the United States, of which the whereabouts of approximately 150,000 are unknown to authorities. This is a serious problem because once released, sex offenders are four times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime than our other criminals for subsequent offenses. The Children's Safety Act strengthens the sex offender registration and notification program to ensure sex offenders register and maintain current information and creates a new criminal penalty of up to a maximum of 20 years for sex offenders who fail to comply with registration requirements. Provisions in this bill also improve protections for foster children and give school districts better tools to protect children from harm in schools.
Attacks on courthouses and public safety officers have become all too common in recent years, and this bill is designed to help prevent future attacks and protect our judges, law enforcement personnel, first responders, court personnel, and their families. While the men and women in public service work to protect us everyday, we must do what we can to ensure their safety. This bill strengthens these protections by stiffening criminal penalties for crimes against federal law enforcement officials and officers as well as increasing penalties against victims, witnesses, jurors, informants, and their families.
Finally, the Children's Safety bill cracks down on gang activity which has become a widespread problem across the nation. According to the U.S. Justice Department, there are currently over 25,000 gangs and over 750,000 gang members who are active in more than 3,000 jurisdictions across the United States. This legislation authorizes funding to assist local law enforcement in targeting and federally prosecuting violent criminals associated with street gangs.
The Children's Safety and Violent Crime Reduction Act is a positive step in the right direction to better protect our children and communities. This bill provides our communities with better protections, assistance with enforcement, and tools to prevent and combat violence.