Dennis Kucinich on Crime
Democratic Representative (OH-10)
End mandatory minimums
First of all, we need to seek to end mandatory minimums. We know whoís serving those mandatory minimums. Second, we need to have the emphasis, with respect to drug offenses, on rehabilitation, not incarceration. And third, as president, Iíll do anything
I can to end the federal death penalty, which Iíve already introduced legislation for in the past. Because we need to have an approach that recognizes the discrimination which exists in our justice system.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University
, Jun 28, 2007
Ban the death penalty-98% of those convicted are poor
Q: Do you support the death penalty?
A: I oppose the death penalty and would ban it. Ninety-eight percent of defendants sentenced to death have been people who could not afford their own attorneys. One death row inmate is found innocent for every seven
executed. African-American defendants are more likely to receive death sentences than others who committed similar crimes. And the death penalty does nothing to deter crime that canít be accomplished at least as well without it.
Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, ďDeath PenaltyĒ
, Jan 25, 2004
Terminate the federal death penalty, even if unpopular
Q: As president, what would be the least popular, most right thing you would do?
KUCINICH: I would take action to stop the federal death penalty.
Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan
, Sep 25, 2003
Focus on prevention, not punishment
Since even the most severe punishment of many crimes can never compensate for lost lives, a sense of violation and a lost sense of security, it is crucial that we create programs to deter crimes and prevent them from ever occurring.
Source: 1996 Congressional National Political Awareness Test
, Jul 2, 1996
Voted YES on enforcing against anti-gay hate crimes.
Congressional Summary:Adopts the definition of "hate crime" as set forth in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994: a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person. Provides technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of hate crimes, including financial grant awards.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. JOHN CONYERS (D, MI-14):This bill expands existing Federal hate crimes law to groups who are well-known targets for bias-based violence--they are sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. These crimes of violence are directed not just at those who are directly attacked; they are targeting the entire group with the
threat of violence.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LAMAR SMITH (R, TX-21): Every year thousands of violent crimes are committed out of hate, but just as many violent crimes, if not more, are motivated by something other than hate--greed, jealousy, desperation or revenge, just to name a few. An individual's motivation for committing a violent crime is usually complex and often speculative. Every violent crime is deplorable, regardless of its motivation. That's why all violent crimes should be vigorously prosecuted. Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system--equal justice for all. Under this bill, justice will no longer be equal. Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim. It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime. This is the real injustice.
Reference: Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act;
; vote number 2009-H223
on Apr 2, 2009
Voted YES on expanding services for offenders' re-entry into society.
H.R.1593: Second Chance Act of 2007: Community Safety Through Recidivism Prevention or the Second Chance Act (Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass). To reauthorize the grant program for reentry of offenders into the community in the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and to improve reentry planning and implementation.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. CONYERS: Some 650,000 men and women are leaving the Federal and State prisons each year. While the vast majority of the prisoners are committed to abiding by the law and becoming productive members of society, they often encounter the same pressures & temptations that they faced before prison. More than two-thirds of them are arrested for new crimes within 3 years of their release. This exacts a terrible cost in financial terms as well as in human terms. The Second Chance Act will help provide these men and women with the training, counseling and other support needed to help them obtain
& hold steady jobs; to kick their drug and alcohol habits; rebuild their families; and deal with the many other challenges that they face in their efforts to successfully rejoin society.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. GOHMERT: The programs that are sought to be renewed are ones we don't have information on how successful they were. I can tell you from my days as a judge, there was some anecdotal evidence that it looked like faith-based programs did a better job of dramatically reducing recidivism. In addition:
Reference: Second Chance Act;
; vote number 2007-1083
on Nov 13, 2007
- There are some provisions that allow for too much administration. That is going to build a bigger bureaucracy.
- Dismissing all charges if someone completes drug rehab under another provision I think is outrageous. You are going to remove the hammer that would allow you to keep people in line?
- We also have a provision to teach inmates how they can go about getting the most welfare before they leave prison and go out on their own.
Voted YES on funding for alternative sentencing instead of more prisons.
Vote on an amendment that would reduce the funding for violent offender imprisonment by and truth-in-sentencing programs by $61 million. The measure would increase funding for Boys and Girls Clubs and drug courts by the same amount.
Reference: Amendment sponsored by Scott, D-VA;
Bill HR 4690
; vote number 2000-317
on Jun 22, 2000
Voted NO on more prosecution and sentencing for juvenile crime.
Vote to pass a bill to appropriate $1.5 billion to all of the states that want to improve their juvenile justice operations. Among other provisions this bill includes funding for development, implementation, and administration of graduated sanctions for juvenile offenders, funds for building, expanding, or renovating juvenile corrections facilities, hiring juvenile judges, probation officers, and additional prosecutors for juvenile cases.
Reference: Bill introduced by McCollum, R-FL;
Bill HR 1501
; vote number 1999-233
on Jun 17, 1999
Rated 80% by CURE, indicating pro-rehabilitation crime votes.
Kucinich scores 80% 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 legislatorís percentage score on CUREís 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.
Kucinich 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.
Kucinich 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.
Kucinich 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.
Reduce recidivism by giving offenders a Second Chance.
Kucinich co-sponsored reducing recidivism by giving offenders a Second Chance
Recidivism Reduction and Second Chance Act of 2007Legislative Outcome: Became Public Law No: 110-199.
Source: Second Chance Act (S.1060/H.R.1593) 08-S1060 on Mar 29, 2007
- Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to expand provisions for adult and juvenile offender state and local reentry demonstration projects to provide expanded services to offenders and their families for reentry into society.
- Directs the Attorney General to award grants for:
- state and local reentry courts;
- Comprehensive and Continuous Offender Reentry Task Forces;
- pharmacological drug treatment services to incarcerated offenders;
- technology career training for offenders;
- mentoring services for reintegrating offenders into the community;
- pharmacological drug treatment services to incarcerated offenders;
- prison-based family treatment programs for incarcerated parents of minor children; and
- a study of parole or post-incarceration supervision violations and revocations.
Sponsored abolishing the federal death penalty.
Kucinich sponsored Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act
- Repeals death penalty provisions for a wide range of homicide-related offenses, including offenses punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
- Prohibits the sentencing to death or execution of any person for any violation of federal law after the enactment of this Act.
- Commutes death penalties imposed prior to the enactment of this Act to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
OnTheIssues Notes: This bill affects only the FEDERAL death penalty, not STATE death penalties. The death penalty is currently implemented in 34 states. It was re-legalized by a Supreme Court decision in 1977, for both state and federal executions. Since then, 1,278 people have been executed, but only 3 of those have been federal executions. About 3,250 inmates remain on 'Death Row,' and 61 for federal death row. Texas is by far the national leader in executions--it has executed 477 people as of Jan. 2012, 37% of the national total. (Virginia is a very distant second with 109). In other words, this bill is largely symbolic, unless states followed the federal abolition.
Source: H.R.3051 11-H3051 on Sep 23, 2011
Page last updated: Jun 10, 2012