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BIDEN Bill Will Help Stop Fugitives in Their Tracks

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

BIDEN Bill Will Help Stop Fugitives in Their Tracks

U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime & Drugs, introduced legislation today designed to ensure the identification, apprehension, and extradition of felony fugitives.

The Fugitive Information Networked Database (FIND) Act of 2008 (S.3136) will encourage States to enter new and outstanding felony warrants into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database by authorizing grants to State and local agencies to upgrade their warrant databases. This upgrade will make their systems compatible and interoperable with the national database - allowing for seamless entry of state and local warrants into the federal database. The FIND Act will also authorize additional funds for the extradition of fugitives.

"If someone is arrested in one state and it's not recorded in any national database - murderers and rapists can potentially escape justice merely by crossing state lines," said Sen. Biden. "This is inexcusable."

For over forty years, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) has served as the computer database that law enforcement agencies across the nation routinely use to track fugitives: crime suspects whom police can't find to arrest, and defendants who skip court or violate their probation or parole rules. Too often, State and local law enforcement agencies enter warrants into the State and local databases, but not into the national FBI database. As a result, a fugitive wanted for rape in one state can escape justice by crossing state lines. Often, this individual can freely get a driver's license in a second state or commit another crime because a warrant has not been entered into the national database. Moreover, if a suspect wanted in State A is apprehended in State B, but State A lacks the resources to extradite the suspect to face justice, State B often has no choice but to release the fugitive. Sen. Biden's legislation addresses these dangerous problems.

"Fugitives who aren't apprehended often commit new crimes in other states. We need our police departments to get in to the habit of entering all warrants into the national database. It's the only way we're ever going to consistently catch fugitives. We owe it to our communities to take these dangerous criminals off the streets," added Sen. Biden.

Sen. Biden's Fugitive Information Networked Database Act of 2008 will:

* Authorize $25 million for grants to State and local governmental agencies to upgrade their warrant databases to make them compatible with the National Crime Information Center;

* Ensure accountability by requiring State and local governmental agencies, as a condition for receiving a grant, to report to the U.S. Attorney General on current warrant backlogs, demonstrate good faith efforts to eliminate warrant backlogs, and develop guidelines to ensure felony warrants can be entered seamlessly into the Federal, State and local databases;

* Require annual reports to the U.S. Attorney General and to Congress on the progress State and local governmental agencies have made to eliminate warrant backlogs;

* Authorize additional resources for the U.S. Marshals Service to fund regional and local fugitive task forces and to fund the extradition of fugitives through the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transport System; and

* Direct the GAO to submit to Congress a report on the number of felony warrants outstanding in each State; the number of those warrants that have been entered into the NCIC database; the number of times State and local law enforcement have been contacted regarding a fugitive apprehended in another state; and for each state, the number of fugitives who were apprehended elsewhere but not returned to the state holding the warrant.

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigative series revealed that anywhere from 1.9 million to 2.7 million felony fugitives are on the run from law enforcement. The series found that in "state after state, year after year, fugitives have been let go by police, only to victimize more people."

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