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house Bill H.R. 570

Should the Prison Term For Stalking a Minor be Increased by 5 Years?

Argument in favor

Stalking a minor is one of the most egregious crimes a person can commit. Prison terms for those convicted of it should be five years longer.

John's Opinion
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08/17/2019
I think it should also be five years in prison for grabbing a woman by the pussy just because you’re famous.
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Rene's Opinion
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08/17/2019
A dear friend's daughter was recently stalked and kidnapped. She was recovered alive but she will have to deal with the ramifications of this crime for a lifetime. I appreciate the concept of at least making sure that these predators aren't released while these children are still children.
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Aaron's Opinion
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08/17/2019
Only the stalkers would object to this bill.
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Argument opposed

The current punishment for stalking a minor is sufficient, the prison term doesn’t need to be increased by five years.

B.R.'s Opinion
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08/17/2019
Not sure that increasing the prison term by five years is going to satisfy the objective. In the write-up, an example was given that cites 18 months to 7 years. While judges should have some flexibility in deciding prison terms, perhaps a better way is to set/increase a minimum sentence.
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David 's Opinion
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08/18/2019
Mr Fitzpatrick has this bill backwards. Adding 5 years to the stalkers’ sentences isn’t going to solve the problem. Quicker apprehension and incarceration will, along with help for the victims, and increased protections for possible victims be much more valuable.
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Thelma's Opinion
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08/18/2019
Stalking is egregious no matter whom is impacted, and the punishment should fit the crime. Five years is arbitrary, makes law and order republicans feel tough.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedJanuary 15th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 570?

This bill — the Combat Online Predators Act — would increase the maximum prison sentence for stalking minors by 5 years. It would also require the Attorney General to produce an annual report evaluating the enforcement of stalking laws at all level of government and identify best practices.

Impact

People convicted of stalking minors; prisons; and the Attorney General.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 570

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost less than $500,000.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to increase penalties related to the stalking of minors

"We have no higher responsibility than to protect our kids. We must do everything we can to forcefully respond to egregious instances of stalking and cyberstalking, especially when committed against minors – the most vulnerable among us. The Combat Online Predators Act ensures that, not only are we increasing penalties for these crimes, but we are also requiring federal law enforcement officials to constantly evaluate and update practices to combat this online harassment."

Rep. Fitzpatrick introduced this bill in the last Congress after a case in his district where a teenage girl was stalked by a friend’s father, who was arrested on two occasions and sentenced to between 18 months and 7 years in prison:

“Sitting with the Zezzo family, I saw the pain in their eyes. After hearing the disturbing story of cyberstalking endured by this young girl and her family for years, I knew something needed to be done. We must do everything we can to forcefully respond to egregious instances of stalking and cyberstalking, especially when committed against minors — the most vulnerable among us. The Combat Online Predators Act ensures that not only are we increasing penalties for these crimes, but also requiring federal law enforcement officials to constantly evaluate and update practices to combat this digital harassment. There is still ”

This bill has three bipartisan House cosponsors, including two Democrats and one Republican, in the current session of Congress. A Senate version of this bill, sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) with the support of one cosponsor, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), has also been introduced.

Last Congress, this bill passed the House by a 409-2 vote with the support of five bipartisan cosponsors, including four Republicans and one Democrat. It then passed the Senate by unanimous consent with an amendment that made the enhanced penalties apply only to more serious cases of stalking. Since the two chambers couldn't agree on a final version before the end of the 115th Congress, the bill didn't become law.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: grandriver / iStock)

AKA

Combat Online Predators Act

Official Title

To amend title 18, United States Code, with regard to stalking.

    I think it should also be five years in prison for grabbing a woman by the pussy just because you’re famous.
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    Not sure that increasing the prison term by five years is going to satisfy the objective. In the write-up, an example was given that cites 18 months to 7 years. While judges should have some flexibility in deciding prison terms, perhaps a better way is to set/increase a minimum sentence.
    Like (15)
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    Is stalking a federal crime? Stalking a child is horrible crime and can surely cause lasting psychological damage. The penalties need to be severe and they need to be determined by a judge who can fully assess the history of the stalker, intent and intensity. I would agree to increasing a judges latitude for increased sentencing when warranted. I do not think it should be mandated by the federal government. I am not aware of any federal law that addresses this crime specifically and I wonder if it is even currently addressed in the US code suggested to be modified, so I really do not understand what this legislation is about. Seems like a State issue to me.
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    A dear friend's daughter was recently stalked and kidnapped. She was recovered alive but she will have to deal with the ramifications of this crime for a lifetime. I appreciate the concept of at least making sure that these predators aren't released while these children are still children.
    Like (48)
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    Only the stalkers would object to this bill.
    Like (22)
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    Yes, but this only addresses the problem after the stalker is convicted. Why are these people doing these disgusting things? How do we spot and stop these people before the damage is done?
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    Absolutely! They deserve to be in prison and identified by their peers as such...let them learn what fear really is when YOU are the one being stalked.
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    Yes, I’m all, for protecting children....5 additional years, if the perp makes it past 5 months in Jail.
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    Stalking is systematic emotional torture, personalized terrorism, and is unspeakably cruel. It destroys lives and leaves lasting damages. Anyone capable of this is highly dangerous and must be locked up as long as possible.
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    Mr Fitzpatrick has this bill backwards. Adding 5 years to the stalkers’ sentences isn’t going to solve the problem. Quicker apprehension and incarceration will, along with help for the victims, and increased protections for possible victims be much more valuable.
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    This bill was inspired by my daughter and my families five year and horrible experience with a stalker 37 years older than her, starting when she was just 13 years old. I encourage you to consider keeping our children safe and this bill provides a steppingstone to begin this process. Technology has far surpassed our legislation and increasing penalties will become a deterrent against the stalkers. And the next thing we need to do is to take a close look at the 7.5 million stalking victims and the current legislation and why there are so many gaps allowing these predators to continue their actions. Our stalker used social media posting over 15,000 times about her, providing a detailed plan on how he was going to come get her on her 18th birthday. We prevented a more heinous crime but the process was grueling at best and my daughter and family will forever be looking over her shoulder. Please support this Combat Online Predators Act and help keep our children safe .
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    Absolutely it should be increased. Children/minors need extra protection. They don’t know what they might be in for when adults keep showing up.
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    An additional 5 years is too lenient, double that or triple it. #MAGA
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    25 yers at hard labor! If you rape a child! That means anyone under 18! Death!
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    The prison term for stalking minors should be increased to life!
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    Stalking is egregious no matter whom is impacted, and the punishment should fit the crime. Five years is arbitrary, makes law and order republicans feel tough.
    Like (5)
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    What the Zezzo family endured is unthinkable. No family should ever have to go through that. We absolutely need tougher penalties.
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    Don’t stop there, once a habit is formed it takes longer to stop it. Make it twenty years minimum.
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    Yes. If something like this is in place and there are strict punishments, perhaps it would serve as a deterrent to those who would be tempted to stalk minors or any individual that could deem would do harm.
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    It should be at least 15 years. This way said minor will be an adult by time the SOB gets out.
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