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senate Bill S. 3184

Should the Murderers of Federal Judges or Public Safety Officers Get 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.

Thomas's Opinion
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08/26/2016
A Judge or Public Safety Officer, being employed by the government, can arguably be described as a government agent. The murder of a government agent is considered a capital felony by law. The use of the death penalty not only brings well served justice to the case, but will act as a deterrent and should make people conspiring to murder think twice about their actions
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BTSundra's Opinion
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08/26/2016
These people have taken a life and deserve the punishment they gave to an innocent person.
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Originalist's Opinion
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08/26/2016
Federal judges, in particular, are supposed to be the "blind judges" that hold the balance. It sends a strong message to not disrupt that balance or target those who may hurt their case. It is essential to liberty and justice that we take extra care to protect those who help maintain order in society. And to everyone who says, "they're not more important than me", federal judges are very likely to be more important than you. That being said, I think the death penalty should be allowed for all cases of first and second degree murder.
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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.

Ben's Opinion
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08/26/2016
I feel that designating some citizen's lives as more valuable than others is a very slippery slope...
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Ben's Opinion
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08/26/2016
The death penalty is not effective in deterring crime, it's more expensive than life in prison, and it runs the risk of wrongfully executing an innocent person. The death penalty for ANY crime is morally unjustifiable.
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Mel's Opinion
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08/26/2016
No more so than any other murder. Why should they get preferential treatment because of their job? That is NOT equality.
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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
    IntroducedJuly 13th, 2016

What is Senate Bill S. 3184?

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. 3184

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:

“Law enforcement officers selflessly put their lives on the line everyday to protect our communities, and in return they deserve our unparalleled support for the irreplaceable role they serve. The Back the Blue Act sends a clear message that our criminal justice system simply will not tolerate those who viciously and deliberately target our law enforcement.”

Cornyn’s colleague from Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) added that this legislation would show “solidarity with our police officers, firefighters, first responders, and federal officers who selflessly run into harm’s way to protect our families and our communities.”

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


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 2016

Official Title

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

    A Judge or Public Safety Officer, being employed by the government, can arguably be described as a government agent. The murder of a government agent is considered a capital felony by law. The use of the death penalty not only brings well served justice to the case, but will act as a deterrent and should make people conspiring to murder think twice about their actions
    Like (26)
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    I feel that designating some citizen's lives as more valuable than others is a very slippery slope...
    Like (199)
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    The death penalty is not effective in deterring crime, it's more expensive than life in prison, and it runs the risk of wrongfully executing an innocent person. The death penalty for ANY crime is morally unjustifiable.
    Like (76)
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    No more so than any other murder. Why should they get preferential treatment because of their job? That is NOT equality.
    Like (56)
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    Killing - all killing - is wrong AND federal judges are not more important than the rest of us
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    I don't think the judicial system should have the ability to sentence people to death.
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    Sorry but those people are no better than anyone else.
    Like (19)
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    I have some problems with this bill as written. We often criticize our legislators for not reading a bill and/or giving it serious consideration. But how many Countable members take the time to actually read them? You know that old saying, "The devil is in the details!" It's tempting to just cast a vote because a bill, like this one, has a "feel good" or patriotic title. But when you dig a little deeper, you start seeing that beauty may indeed be only skin deep. There are worrisome parts about this bill, and it especially bothers me that they apparently have the support of some heavy-hitters in the Grand Ole Party! It's very alarming when certain Conservative Republicans, who claim to want to stick to the Constitution, are willing to bend the rules when it seems politically expedient or advantageous. Part of the bill (and you may correct me if you think I'm wrong) strikes me as impinging on states' rights/jurisdiction. Examples: (1.) "‘‘§ 120. Assaults of law enforcement officers ‘‘(a) DEFINITION.—In this section, the term ‘federally funded State or local law enforcement officer’ means an individual involved in crime and juvenile delinquency control or reduction, or enforcement of the laws (including a police, corrections, probation, or parole officer) who works for a public agency (that receives Federal financial assistance) of a State of the United States or the District of Columbia." (2.) ‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—No prosecution of any offense described in this section may be undertaken by the United States, except under the certification in writing of the Attorney General, or a designee, that— ‘‘(C) the verdict or sentence obtained pur- suant to State charges left demonstratively unvindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence; or ‘‘(D) a prosecution by the United States is in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice. (These provisions should scare the heck out of you, considering the possibility of our ending up with a hard-left leaning POTUS! Keep in mind that the DOJ has a rather twisted idea of who America's real enemies are, and this bill calls for the death penalty in certain situations! Mind you, I am NOT saying that the death penalty is never justified!) Secondly, I imagine that this bill will appeal to many who RIGHTFULLY want to protect our LEOs, and other people who put their lives on the line in the performance of their jobs. But please tell me this: is one person's life worth more, because of his/her occupation, than the life of any other human being? I'm appalled that Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter, but CHRISTIAN lives don't matter and WHITE PEOPLE'S lives don't matter! At least, that is the impression I get. We honor our soldiers, LEOs, firefighters, and other first responders, but what about the "common man"? What about the unborn? What about the Christian preachers who work to raise the moral standards of our society? DO WE HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL? I think we have been devolving into the sort of society our founding fathers fled from and then fought against. The very fact that we talk about the "ruling class" and "elitists" vs. the "common man" would seem to contradict that ideal. Our federal government keeps pushing for special treatment for one group or another! AND THEY KEEP TRYING TO INCREASE THEIR POWER AND JURISDICTION, or so it seems to me!
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    We shouldn't follow the barbaric principal of an eye for an eye. If we done rape rapists why do we murder murders? It brings us down to their level.
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    Death for murder
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    These people have taken a life and deserve the punishment they gave to an innocent person.
    Like (9)
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    My NAY! is not a typical modern response: I am not standing on high moral ground looking down on those who support the death penalty. My NAY is based on what I understand, as does anyone with eyes to see, a justice system that incarcerates & executes minority people at a horrifyingly higher percentage than white people charged with similar or worse offenses. Of course it is unspeakable when judges or police are targeted. Still, they chose dangerous work that deals with the violent part of society. No sane person would fail to condemn the person who murdered any individual police officer or judge but they live in a world where they preach personal responsibility. They made a choice & need to take responsibility for their choices. Executing their murderers will not bring them back. It doesn't take a Ph.D. to see that this is yet another way in which to justify! killing American citizens who are part of a minority out of fury & vengeance.
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    To say that someone's life has greater value over another seems more like backtracking and not moving forward.
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    Only if all other murders are punished in the same way. Same sentence for the the same crime, no matter who you are or what your status is.
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    Federal judges, in particular, are supposed to be the "blind judges" that hold the balance. It sends a strong message to not disrupt that balance or target those who may hurt their case. It is essential to liberty and justice that we take extra care to protect those who help maintain order in society. And to everyone who says, "they're not more important than me", federal judges are very likely to be more important than you. That being said, I think the death penalty should be allowed for all cases of first and second degree murder.
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    Murder is murder! Not only does the Constitution REQUIRE trial by jury for ALL crimes, but that also means that the Jury decides the punishment.
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    Murder is murder, if the victims are a US citizen the value of life is the same. If they are not a US citizen then the value of human life is the same. I think the only real difference would be on the offender, their citizenship status and criminal record. Also the heinousness of the murder is the largest factor in the penalty.
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    Any and all murderers, rapist, child molesters, drug dealers, and abusers should get the death penalty. And the execution should happen swiftly. Within a few years of sentencing. I don't care if it's a deterrent for murder. One who doesn't value human life doesn't deserve to live.
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    The death penalty for any crime is unjust. However the proposed jail sentence is something that should be discussed and debated with legislators and experts.
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    I think the death penalty should be on the table for murdering anyone; Judge or little baby. Murder is murder and judges and police are no different or valuable than anyone else. If we use death penalty, Then USE it and quit with endless appeals. 6 months tops.
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