IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
July 23, 2008
Mr. Reid introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To establish a Federal Polygamy Task Force, to authorize assistance for victims of polygamy, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as
Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act
Congress makes the following findings:
Despite the fact that polygamy has been illegal in the United States for over 100 years, the practice of polygamy involving underage marriages is growing. Sizable polygamist communities exist in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, and are expanding into other States.
Polygamist communities are typically controlled by organizations that engage in widespread and systematic violations of State laws and the laws of the United States in order to enrich their leaders and maintain control over their members.
The crimes perpetrated by these organizations include child abuse, domestic violence, welfare fraud, tax evasion, public corruption, witness tampering, and transporting victims across State lines.
Due to the systematic and sophisticated nature of these crimes, State and local law enforcement agencies would benefit from the assistance of the Federal Government as they investigate and prosecute these organizations and their leaders for violations of State law. In addition, violations of Federal law associated with polygamy should be investigated and prosecuted directly by Federal authorities.
The work of State and Federal law enforcement agencies to combat crimes by polygamist organizations would benefit from enhanced collaboration and information-sharing among such agencies.
The establishment of a task force within the Department of Justice to coordinate Federal efforts and collaborate with State agencies would aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activities of polygamist organizations in both Federal and State courts.
Polygamist organizations isolate, control, manipulate, and threaten victims with retribution should they ever abandon the organization. Individuals who choose to testify against polygamist organizations in Federal or State court have unique needs, including social services and witness protection support, that warrant Federal assistance.
Establishment of a Federal Polygamy Task Force
There is established within the Department of Justice a Federal Polygamy Task Force, which shall consist of the Deputy Attorney General, the United States attorneys from affected Federal judicial districts, representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services, and any officer of the Federal Government whom the Deputy Attorney General considers necessary to strengthen Federal law enforcement activities and provide State and local law enforcement officials the assistance they need to address the illegal activity of one or more polygamist organizations.
The Federal Polygamy Task Force established under subsection (a) shall—
formulate effective responses to the unique set of crimes committed by polygamist organizations;
establish partnerships with State and local law enforcement agencies to share relevant information and strengthen State and Federal efforts to combat crimes perpetrated by polygamist organizations;
assist States by providing strategies and support for the protection of witnesses;
track the criminal behavior of polygamist organizations that cross State and international borders; and
ensure that local officials charged with protecting the public are not corrupted because of financial, family, or membership ties to a polygamist organization.
Polygamy victim assistance discretionary grants
The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (42 U.S.C. 10601 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 1404E the following:
Assistance for victims of polygamy
The Director may make grants as provided in section 1404(c)(1)(A) to State, tribal, and local prosecutors' offices, law enforcement agencies, courts, jails, and correctional institutions, and to qualified public and private entities, to develop, establish, and maintain programs for the enforcement of rights and provision of social services (including witness protection, housing, education, vocational training, mental health services, child care, and medical treatment) for an individual who is exploited or otherwise victimized by practitioners of polygamy.
Authorization of appropriations
In addition to funds made available under section 1402(d), there are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section—
$2,000,000 for fiscal year 2009; and
$2,500,000 for each of the fiscal years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.
False Claims Act
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, amounts collected
pursuant to sections 3729 through 3731 of title 31, United States Code
(commonly known as the
False Claims Act), may be used for grants
under this section, subject to
Polygamy investigation and prosecution assistance discretionary grants
Section 506(a) of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3756(a)) is amended—
in paragraph (1), by striking
and at the end;
in paragraph (2), by striking the period at
the end and inserting
; and; and
by adding at the end the following:
$2,000,000, to be granted by the Attorney General to States and units of local government to investigate and prosecute polygamist organizations that violate Federal, State, or local laws.