Joseph Lieberman on Crime
Democratic Jr Senator (CT), ran for V.P. with Gore, ran for president 2004
Death penalty for egregious crimes, but applied fairly
Q: Do you support the death penalty?
A: I have long supported the death penalty for the most egregious crimes and terrorists, and I still do. I also believe that the death penalty must be applied fairly.
That means we must ensure that people accused of capital crimes and subject to the death penalty have adequate legal protections, including the right to DNA testing and first-rate legal counsel.
Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, "Death Penalty"
Jan 25, 2004
Invest in rehabilitation, not prisons
Q: How will you reform the legal system?
LIEBERMAN: I believe that people have to be held accountable for crimes. But justice must be fair. Too many people are in jail today for nonviolent drug offenses.
They are costing our country, their states, their families, their neighborhoods an enormous amount. We need to commit ourselves to turn this around and invest in rehabilitation, invest in some of the causes of crime.
Source: Democratic Presidential 2004 Primary Debate in Detroit
Oct 27, 2003
Focus on victim’s rights & on expediting procedures
The liberal, criminal rights-oriented theories I took with me from law school ran smack into the reality of violent crime and street crime in my Hew Haven neighborhood. I knew people who were victims of violent crime and muggings; my house was broken
into twice. Fear of crime was constricting freedom and stifling growth. So I began to propose tougher criminal laws, including the death penalty, and to focus more on victims’ rights and expedited criminal procedures.
Source: Excerpt from “In Praise of Public Life”, p. 55-6
May 2, 2000
Approves $6.2M more for CT crime & drug enforcement
Connecticut has been awarded a $6.3 million law enforcement grant, part of $250 million nationally, to support state and local efforts to target violent and drug-related crime. “To build safer communities, police must have the resources to
identify and catch criminals, and courts must have the resources to build strong cases and put the guilty away,” Lieberman said. “Much of this funding will be used to combat gangs and drugs, which pose perhaps the greatest risks to our youth today.”
Source: Press release, “Combat Crime”
Apr 26, 2000
Build more jails to keep violent offendors for full sentence
“Many Americans are rightly outraged when the perpetrator of a violent crime receives a steep sentence, only to serve a mere fraction of the time because of overcrowded prisons,” Lieberman said. “[New] federal assistance will help keep the most dangerous
felons out of our communities.” [A new] $4.5 million incarceration grant will be used to construct a new facility for juvenile offenders, and to transform halfway house facilities into institutional confinement for violent offenders.
Source: Press Release, “Violent Offendors”
Sep 17, 1999
Proposed commission to study sources of youth violence
Lieberman won unanimous approval to create a national commission to conduct a year-long examination of the factors contributing to the outbreak of school shootings and the larger epidemic of youth violence. The commission would study the many possible
causes behind this problem, and recommend a series of tangible steps to prevent more tragedies [like Littleton]. “This is an honest admission that we don’t have all the answers to explain why so many kids are turning into killers,” Lieberman said.
Source: Press Release, “Omnibus juvenile justice bill”
May 20, 1999
Favors death penalty, even for minors
Lieberman’s voting record on crime-related issues:
Source: Vote-smart.org “Voting Record”
Apr 17, 1996
- Voted IN FAVOR of making it harder to appeal the death penalty in terrorism cases. (S.735, 4/17/1996)
- Voted AGAINST enabling prisoners appealing death penalty sentences to argue racial
discrimination using sentencing statistics as part of their appeal. (S.1935, 5/11/1994)
- Voted IN FAVOR of the death penalty for crimes committed when an individual is under the age of 18. (S.1607, 11/8/1993)
Mandatory prison for gun use; prevention for juveniles
Lieberman’s voting record on crime-related issues:
Source: Vote-smart.org “Voting Record”
May 19, 1994
- Voted YES for mandatory prison terms for the use of a firearm during a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (HR 3355, 5/19/1994)
- Voted YES to authorize $1.15 billion per year to
continue the COPS program [funding 100,000 police officers] (S.254, 5/20/1999)
- Voted AGAINST increasing funding for law enforcement of juveniles, to be offset by a decrease in juvenile crime prevention programs. (S.2260, 7/22/1998)
Voted YES on reinstating $1.15 billion funding for the COPS Program.
Amendment would increase funding for the COPS Program to $1.15 billion for FY 2008 to provide state and local law enforcement with critical resources. The funding is offset by an unallocated reduction to non-defense discretionary spending.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
This amendment reinstates the COPS Program. I remind everyone, when the COPS Program was functioning, violent crime in America reduced 8.5% a year for 7 years in a row. Throughout the 1990s, we funded the COPS Program at roughly $1.2 billion, and it drove down crime. Now crime is rising again. The COPS Program in the crime bill worked, and the Government Accounting Office found a statistical link between the COPS grants and a reduction in crime.
The Brookings Institution reported the COPS Program is one of the most cost-effective programs we have ever had in this country. Local officials urgently need this support.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
The COPS Program has some history. It was started by President Clinton. He asked for 100,000 police officers. He said that when we got to 100,000, the program would stop. We got to 110,000 police officers and the program continues on and on and on.
This program should have ended 5 years ago or 6 years ago, but it continues. It is similar to so many Federal programs that get constituencies that go on well past what their original purpose was. It may be well intentioned, but we cannot afford it and we shouldn't continue it. It was never thought it would be continued this long.
Reference: Biden Amendment;
Bill S.Amdt.529 on S.Con.Res.21
; vote number 2007-110
on Mar 23, 2007
Voted YES on $1.15 billion per year to continue the COPS program.
Vote on an amendment to authorize $1.15 billion per year from 2000 through 2005 to continue and expand the Community Oriented Policing Services program. $600 million of the annual funding is marked for hiring additional officers [up to 50,000]
; vote number 1999-139
on May 20, 1999
Voted YES on limiting death penalty appeals.
Vote to table, or kill, a motion to send the bill back to the joint House-Senate conference committee with instructions to delete the provisions in the bill that would make it harder for prisoners given the death penalty in state courts to appeal.
; vote number 1996-66
on Apr 17, 1996
Voted YES on limiting product liability punitive damage awards.
Approval of a limit on punitive damages in product liability cases.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)59; N)40; NV)1
Reference: Conference Report on H.R. 956;
Bill H. R. 956
; vote number 1996-46
on Mar 21, 1996
Voted YES on restricting class-action lawsuits.
Restriction of class-action security lawsuits.
Status: Veto Overridden Y)68; N)30; P)1
Reference: H.R. 1058 passage over veto;
Bill H.R. 1058
; vote number 1995-612
on Dec 22, 1995
Voted NO on repealing federal speed limits.
Repeal federal speeding limits.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)64; N)36
Reference: Motion to table Lautenberg Amdt #1428;
Bill S. 440
; vote number 1995-270
on Jun 20, 1995
Voted YES on mandatory prison terms for crimes involving firearms.
Vote on the motion to instruct conferees on the bill to insist that the conference report include Mandatory prison terms for the use, possession, or carrying of a firearm or destructive device during a state crime of violence or drug trafficking
; vote number 1994-126
on May 19, 1994
Voted YES on rejecting racial statistics in death penalty appeals.
Vote to express that the Omnibus Crime bill [H.R. 3355] should reject the Racial Justice Act provisions, which would enable prisoners appealing death penalty sentences to argue racial discrimination using sentencing statistics as part of their appeal.
Bill S 1935
; vote number 1994-106
on May 11, 1994
Rated 50% by CURE, indicating mixed votes on rehabilitation.
Lieberman scores 50% 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 legislator’s percentage score on CURE’s 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.
Lieberman 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)
More funding and stricter sentencing for hate crimes.
Lieberman co-sponsored the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act:
Title: To provide Federal assistance to States and local jurisdictions to prosecute hate crimes.
Summary: Provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any violent crime that is motivated by prejudice based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim or is a violation of hate crime laws.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR1343 on Apr 3, 2001
- Award grants to assist State and local law enforcement officials with extraordinary expenses for interstate hate crimes.
- Award grants to State and local programs designed to combat hate crimes committed by juveniles.
- Prohibit specified offenses involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
- Increase criminal sentencing for adult recruitment of juveniles to commit hate crimes.
- Collect and publish data about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on gender.
Require DNA testing for all federal executions.
Lieberman 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.
Rated 87% by the NCJA, indicating a "tough-on-crime" stance.
Lieberman scores 87% by the NCJA on crime issues
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005 NCJA scores as follows:
About the NCJA (from their website, www.ncja.org):
- 0%- 74%: "soft-on-crime" record (approx. 133 members)
- 75%- 84%: mixed record on criminal justice (approx. 114 members)
- 85%-100%: "tough-on-crime" record (approx. 216 members)
The National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) exists to promote the development of justice systems in states, tribal nations, and units of local government that enhance public safety; prevent and reduce the harmful effects of criminal and delinquent behavior on victims, individuals and communities; adjudicate defendants and sanction offenders fairly and justly; and that are effective and efficient.
Toward this end, the Association:
Source: NCJA website 05n-NCJA on Dec 31, 2005
- Maintains the focus of state, tribal, local and federal governments on the needs of the criminal and juvenile justice systems;
- Represents state, tribal, and local criminal and juvenile justice system concerns to the federal government;
- Provides support for the development of criminal and juvenile justice policy for the nation's governors and tribal leaders;
- Supports the public and all levels of government in the achievement of public safety by the coordination of education, community and social service systems, in addition to law enforcement and criminal justice measures;
- Serves as a catalyst for the careful consideration and promotion of effective and efficient criminal and juvenile justice policies and practices;
- Advocates for the commitment of adequate resources to support all components of the criminal and juvenile justice systems; and
- Coordinates between the different branches and levels of government and promotes broad philosophical agreement.
Life imprisonment for repeat sexual predators.
Lieberman co-sponsored restricting parole for repeat sexual predators
Expresses the sense of the Congress that States should:
Source: Protection from Sexual Predators Act (H.R.3990) 1994-H3990 on Mar 9, 1994
- more seriously consider the relatively high recidivism rate of sexual offenders when deciding whether to plea bargain with first-time sexual offenders and whether to grant parole to sexual offenders; and
- review their treatment and parole supervision programs for sexual offenders to assure that such programs are fulfilling their goals.
- Whoever violates provisions regarding aggravated sexual abuse after previously having been convicted of another State or Federal sexual abuse offense shall be imprisoned for life.
Establish guidelines for State programs requiring any person who is convicted of a sex offense to register and keep up to date a current address with a designated State law enforcement agency for ten years after being released from prison
- Maintain on-line availability of information obtained under this Act
- Carry out a study of persistent sexual predators and to report to the Congress and the President.
Page last updated: Jul 15, 2008