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senate Bill S. 1134

Should the Murderers of Federal Judges or Public Safety Officers Face the Death Penalty?

Argument in favor

If someone murders or tries to kill a federal judge or public safety officer they should be faced with lengthy mandatory minimums and potentially the death penalty. Such a crime seeks to undermine the rule of law, and should be punished harshly.

Mark's Opinion
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06/03/2017
These people are public servants just as much as the police, and are unarmed. They absolutely NEED this protection. More, they deserve it.
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Vanessa's Opinion
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06/02/2017
If a person working in an official capacity, to protect and serve, is killed while performing those duties, the perpetrator needs to be dealt with to the highest extent of the law. Officers need to know we stand behind them 100% and take their service as a privilege, not our right.
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Kyle's Opinion
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06/03/2017
Many times in our past, the pursuit of Justice was intentionally harmed by murdering members of the police, prosecution and judiciary. There can be no quarry for criminals who attempt to sway justice by attacking our law enforcers and jurists.
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Argument opposed

It’s wrong for the government to impose the death penalty on a citizen under any circumstance, as the judicial system that would mete out the punishment is prone to errors and it’s impossible to bring back someone who was wrongly executed.

Gabriel 's Opinion
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06/03/2017
What about those who murder unarmed black people... 🤔
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TuckerWantsLiberty's Opinion
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06/03/2017
I can think of nothing more terrifying than giving the State the authority to kill, even out of retribution. Not once in history has that power been wielded without grave ethical violations. Murder by State does nothing to correct, to undo, or to apply justice to murder by citizen.
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Coty's Opinion
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06/02/2017
A murder is a murder, and the degree of punishment should be based on the the crime committed. No matter what.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedMay 16th, 2017

What is Senate Bill S. 1134?

This bill would create a new federal crime for killing, attempting to kill, or conspiring to kill a federal judge, law enforcement officer, or public safety officer. For murder, the offender could receive the death penalty, and a conviction would carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years while attempted murder would result in a minimum 10 year sentence.

Other new federal crimes would also be created by this legislation. Assaulting a public safety officer would lead to escalating penalties including mandatory minimums based on the extent of the injury caused and whether a lethal weapon was used. And if a perpetrator flees across state lines to avoid prosecution for a crime created by this bill, they could be subject them to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

In the result of a conviction, this bill would impose time and substantive limits on the ability of federal courts to review challenges of state-court convictions involving the murder of an on-duty public safety officer. For perpetrators who committed a felony, there would be limits on the civil damages and attorney’s fees they can recover from injuries they sustained while committing their crime.

The bill would also reform federal law to carry their guns in most circumstances when entering federal facilities or other places where the possession of a gun is otherwise prohibited. There would also be expanded grant funding to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Impact

People who murder or attempt to murder federal law enforcement officers or judges; federal law enforcement officers and judges; and state and federal courts.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1134

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced this bill to increase penalties on criminals that target public safety officers or federal judges:

“Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve across Texas. Violent criminals who deliberately target those who protect and serve our communities should face swift and tough penalties and the Back the Blue Act sends that clear message.”

Human Rights Watch expressed its opposition to this bill saying it'd "severely reduce the ability of people in the United States to hold officers accountable for abuses." It cited the weakening of protections for the victims of unjustified police violence who were involved with a felony or violent crime by limiting their ability to receive compensation for being harmed. HRW also opposes this bill for making even minor assaults on police officers federal crimes punishable by mandatory minimum sentences, and expanding the federal death penalty.

This legislation has the support of 15 cosponsors in the Senate, all of whom are Republicans.


Of Note: According to a Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence report, 135 law enforcement officers were killed in the line-of-duty across the country, many in ambush style attacks in 2016. That's a 56 percent increase from the year before, and so far in 2017 there have been 15 officers shot and killed.

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: By Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York - Officer Thomas Choi Funeral Processio, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39510974)

AKA

Back the Blue Act of 2017

Official Title

A bill to protect law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.

    These people are public servants just as much as the police, and are unarmed. They absolutely NEED this protection. More, they deserve it.
    Like (23)
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    What about those who murder unarmed black people... 🤔
    Like (319)
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    I can think of nothing more terrifying than giving the State the authority to kill, even out of retribution. Not once in history has that power been wielded without grave ethical violations. Murder by State does nothing to correct, to undo, or to apply justice to murder by citizen.
    Like (190)
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    A murder is a murder, and the degree of punishment should be based on the the crime committed. No matter what.
    Like (144)
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    This is just another excuse to allow police brutality against minority's citizens. As a constituent who only works with a minority population please do not allow this act to go into law.
    Like (107)
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    I thought all men were created equal? Stop prioritizing people based on the status they hold as a government official. They don't get a special punishment just because of their status. If they get one, let alone that harsh, we all get one equally as bad. Fair is fair. Stand up for yourself.
    Like (94)
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    Occupations are not protected classes, and we know innocents have been executed often, so why on earth would we need to impose this permanent punishment as a mandatory?
    Like (74)
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    We are all humans, regardless of our occupation. We should be equal in the eyes of the law. This proposal is bad.
    Like (72)
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    Your job title does not make you any more important than anyone else. Punishments fit the crime, not who it was committed against. This is the country in which a rapist who was caught red handed gets 3 months probation, but if someone with the right job is murdered its automatic life sentence no matter who they say did it? no thanks.
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    Full disclosure, I do not support the death penalty. However even if I did I would not support this bill. The "reasoning" behind the bill is inherently flawed. Firstly, equality of all is a founding (although not realized) principle of this nation, and yet this bill presumes some lives are more valuable than others and appears to base that erred conclusion on something as flimsy as an individual's occupation. How absurd. Secondly, our criminal justice system is supposed to be about justice, not revenge. Granted, that certainly isn't always the case, but this bill in particular reeks with the spirit of revenge and retaliation. Such an attitude and response is counterproductive to the cause of fairness and justice. Finally, law enforcement and the criminal justice system in this country are rife with systemic bias, excessive use of force and disparity in how laws are enforced and sentencing is carried out with people of color disproportionately receiving harsher treatment than their white counterparts. Until we openly seriously address this issue and those with the authority to do so take meaningful steps to correct the problem(s) any increased mandatory sentencing will purposefully disproportionately harm individuals and communities of color. Their is no fairness or justice in that. This is a bad bill. Do not support it.
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    HEY! "ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL..." This isn't an egalitarian bill. This is setting up a special class of Americans! It's saying certain people are more valuable, more important than everyone else. I'm all for supporting our LEOs, but this is going too far.
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    If a person working in an official capacity, to protect and serve, is killed while performing those duties, the perpetrator needs to be dealt with to the highest extent of the law. Officers need to know we stand behind them 100% and take their service as a privilege, not our right.
    Like (22)
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    A crime is a crime. A penalty is a penalty. A stratified system erodes the fundamental principals of equality. Apply the principles of crime and punish equitably.
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    The legislative branch should stay the hell out of the workings of the judiciary. It is not up to Congress to determine if the Death Penalty is appropriate or even humane. It has been outlawed in many states and it is not for you to bring it back. It is also not within your purview to decide whose life is more deserving of a greater sentence than another. Who is to say a doctor isn't more important than a cop or a teacher isn't more important than a representative or a mother more important than a president?
    Like (20)
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    I don't think anyone should face the death penalty--let them rot in prison, but we don't live in an eye-for-an-eye society.
    Like (17)
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    I don't believe in the death penalty. Status or position does not change that. Murder is murder regardless of who does the killing.
    Like (16)
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    We're all equal citizens under the constitution. Treating certain professions above others is a dangerous path. Not in favor.
    Like (16)
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    They should be punished severely with life in prison but not death. Death is the easy way out.
    Like (15)
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    This is all too likely to be yet another police protection that ends up being abused in order to justify killing or jailing more people of color.
    Like (14)
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    There should not be a special class of "protected" citizens. This creates a privileged class and destroys the "equal" before the law. We are a nation of citizens and "others". If they kill someone it should be a murder charge plain and simple.
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