- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on the JudiciaryCrime, Terrorism and Homeland SecurityIntroducedMay 23rd, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 2957?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 2957
In-Depth: Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) introduced this bill to make anyone convicted of a terrorist offense ineligible for early release from federal prison for good behavior:
“A convicted terrorist walking free before his sentence is completed should never happen again. The Spann family asked me to address this injustice, and I want to make sure no other family has to go through what they have been through. The No Leniency for Terrorists Act will prevent terrorists from taking advantage of our laws to avoid paying their debt to society. We must ensure that terrorists will remain behind bars where they belong.”
Senate sponsor Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) adds:
“Our safety depends on keeping dangerous terrorists where they can't harm Americans, but right now even unrepentant terrorists are eligible for early release from prison, sometimes for so-called ‘good behavior.' Supporting radical Islamist groups like ISIS is savage behavior, not good behavior. Our bill would make convicted terrorists ineligible for early release.”
The Intercept argues that the release of convicted terrorists doesn’t pose a threat to public safety:
“[T]hose who believe Lindh’s release should raise fresh fears for our collective safety simply haven’t been paying attention. Lindh is unique as a cultural figure — his capture in Afghanistan made him a modern-day Benedict Arnold — but he is just one of more than 400 convicted terrorists who have been released from U.S. prisons since 9/11. In fact, Lindh isn’t even the only convicted terrorist being released over the course of a week in late May. Charlton Edward La Chase, who wanted to be — in his words — “the first deaf person to create American casualties in the name of ISIS,” was freed on May 24. Michael Todd Wolfe, who planned to head to Syria to join ISIS, will be released May 30. Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons has over the past few years released dozens of name-brand terrorists. U.S. officials have no special program to monitor these people or help reintegrate them into a society that may continue to see them as the enemy… So far, none of the convicted Islamist terrorists released from federal prison have been charged with new terrorism-related offenses or have been alleged to be part of a terrorist plot in the United States. Take the so-called Liberty City Seven: a group, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in a national press conference, that wanted to wage ‘a full ground war’ against the United States. Its alleged members have all been freed; their purported leader, Narseal Batiste, is now a painter in Houston. Bryant Neal Vinas, who was captured in Pakistan and admitted to firing rockets on U.S. military bases in September 2008, is living in New York, having received a lenient sentence after working with the government as a cooperating witness. Even Najibullah Zazi, once described by former Attorney General Eric Holder as “one of the most serious terrorist threats to our nation” since 9/11, should be released soon. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison — which he’s already served — after also having worked with the government as an informant. None of this is to say that the prospect of “terrorist recidivism” isn’t real; it’s just debatable how serious the concern should be about released convicts like Lindh.”
This legislation has 10 bipartisan House cosponsors, including nine Republicans and one Democrat. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), has one Senate cosponsor, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). Neither bill has received a committee vote.
Of Note: John Walker Lindh, an American citizen who left the country to join the Taliban, was released early from prison on May 23, 2019. Lindh had been caught on the battlefield by U.S. military forces, convicted of providing material support to the Taliban and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Ultimately, Lindh only served 17 years of his sentence and got three years off for good behavior. While being held prisoner in Afghanistan in November 2001, Lindh participated in a violent uprising with his fellow Taliban prisoners which resulted in the death of CIA officer and Alabama native Johnny Michael Spann. This made Spann the first American killed during the War on Terror in Afghanistan. While in prison, he continued supporting the actions and missions of ISIS and the Taliban, As recently as 2015, Lindh wrote in a letter from prison that ISIS was “doing a spectacular job.”
Rep. Byrne’s office reports that in addition to Lindh, there are 108 other terrorist offenders who are scheduled to complete their sentences and be released from U.S. federal prison over the next few years.
- Sponsoring Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) Press Release
- Senate Sponsor Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) Press Release
- Senate Cosponsor Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) Letter to President Trump RE: John Walker Lindh
- The Intercept (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Motortion)