Aimee's Law Awaits Senate Approval

ByMelanie Axelrod

Oct. 11, 2000 -- Aimee Willard was a 22-year-old star college athlete when she was kidnapped, raped and killed by a convicted murderer who had been paroled from a Nevada prison in 1996, before his term was up.

Victims’ rights advocates traveled to Washington, D.C., today hoping to convince the Senate to pass a bill they say would prevent more people from being victimized by convicts released early from the sentences.

The bill, already passed in the House, would require states to pay for the prosecution and incarceration of any violent felons who commit crimes in other states after they are paroled. The measure, called the No Second Chances Act — also known as “Aimee’s Law” — would also order states and convicts to pay new victims or their families up to $100,000.

Among the advocates are Fred Goldman, who won a civil verdict against O.J Simpson over the killing of his son, Ron, and Marc Klaas, the father of 12-year-old Petaluma, Calif., murder victim Polly Klaas.

The law would be passed as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, that would also incorporate stronger laws against violence against women, and anti-sex trafficking legislation.

“Basically, this law is good common sense, that states should be held accountable and responsible for the people they incarcerated,” said Goldman. “States have had the chance to do something about this … often, someone who has been incarcerated in one state, it’s been proven that he [or she] will go to another state and commit the same crimes.”

Named After Stellar Athlete, Student

Aimee’s Law was named after Willard, a star soccer player and student at George Mason University in Washington D.C. In June of 1996, she was abducted and slain by Arthur Bomar, who had been paroled from Nevada after serving time for a murder conviction.

“Every year, 14,000 murders, rapes and sexual assaults are committed by released murderers and sex offenders,” said Rep. Matt Salmon, the Arizona Republican who sponsored the measure in the House. “It’s time for the United States Senate to pass Aimee’s Law and put an end to this senseless carnage.”

Under Aimee’s Law, a state that releases a violent felon would have to pay the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment costs of another state if the convict commits another violent act. It would also require the state that released the criminal to pay as much as $100,000 to the victims of the second attack or to their families.

Recidivism Rates High

Salmon, citing U.S. Justice Department statistics, said 16,000 violent crimes and almost 10,000 sexual assaults could be prevented each year by keeping convicted murderers, rapists and child molesters behind bars longer.

He also said more than 134,000 convicted sex offenders are living on probation or parole. Some of them cross state lines and murder more than 100 people, and rape and sexually assault over 1,600 people each year.

Aimee’s Law passed the House easily, but supporters in the House fear it will lose steam in the Senate, especially after an hourlong filibuster by Republican Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who opposes the measure, saying the law infringes too much on state’s rights.

“It’s a serious issue, and it’s taken three years, and three years too long,” Goldman said.

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