With increasing numbers of Americans falling victim to drug addiction and overdoses from heroin and opiates, U.S. Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) today introduced bipartisan legislation that could help turn the tide in the struggle against this epidemic.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2014 would provide a series of incentives and resources designed to encourage states and local communities to advance a continuum of proven strategies to combat addiction. Among other things, the bill would expand prevention and education efforts to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and promote treatment and recovery. It would also strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion.
Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Too many Wisconsinites are falling into the addiction trap. With a 350 percent increase in collected heroin samples reported by the State Crime Laboratory and growing alarm within Wisconsin’s law enforcement community, this is a very real problem that we cannot ignore. It must be addressed effectively and expeditiously. With this legislation, we have an opportunity to build on proven methods that enable law enforcement to respond to this epidemic and support long-term recovery by connecting prevention and education efforts with treatment programs.”
Congressman Scott: “I am deeply concerned with the growth of heroin and prescription painkiller addiction across the nation. Something must be done at the federal level to address this issue and I believe the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act is the answer. This legislation would look at the problem from all angles – from prevention efforts to overdose medication and recovery – in order to stem this epidemic which is taking the lives of 114 people per day.”
This bill is the companion to the Senate’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, S. 2839, introduced in September 2014 by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Pat Leahy (D-Vt.).
The legislation is supported by 93 organizations, including the National District Attorneys Association, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), Faces and Voices of Recovery, the National Council for Behavioral Health, and the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, among others.Read More
The House of Representatives today passed H.R. 647, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, by a vote of 404-17. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) cosponsored and voted in favor of the measure. This bill allows individuals with disabilities to create a new tax-preferred account for short and long-term expenses.
Congressman Sensenbrenner: "As a steadfast advocate for the disabled, my wife Cheryl has long-fought to ensure all Americans with disabilities can lead normal and fulfilling lives. Disabled herself, her resolve inspired me to do everything in my power to help others with disabilities.
“The ABLE Act will expand opportunities for disabled individuals by enabling them to pursue higher education and gainful employment. It will empower them to be self-sufficient and reach their full potential. Cheryl has never let her disability hold her back, and with the passage of this bill, many others with disabilities will be able to do the same.
“I was proud to support this important legislation and urge the Senate to pass it expeditiously.”Read More
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act in October, 2013. The House of Representatives passed an amended bill by a vote of 303-121. In July, Chairman Leahy introduced a revised USA FREEDOM Act that reclaimed lost provisions from the original bill and strengthened privacy protections. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed for cloture on the measure.
Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The USA FREEDOM Act has been heavily negotiated since Chairman Leahy and I introduced it over a year ago. The bipartisan bill before the Senate has my full support and has been endorsed by an eclectic coalition, ranging from tech giants and privacy advocates to the Administration and Intelligence Community. There is no excuse not to pass this critical legislation during the lame duck. We have gone to great lengths to ensure our civil liberties are protected without compromising our national security. As the primary author of the Patriot Act, I know the importance of our intelligence gathering authorities, but the law must be used as Congress intended. It’s time to get this done and restore Americans’ trust in their government.”Read More
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act in October, 2013. Last May, the House Judiciary Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence approved an amended version of the legislation unanimously. The House of Representatives then passed a further amended bill by a vote of 303-121.
In July, Chairman Leahy introduced a revised USA FREEDOM Act that reclaimed lost provisions from the original bill and strengthened privacy protections. It is endorsed by the Intelligence Community, the Administration and numerous technology companies and privacy groups.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tonight filed for cloture on the measure. A vote is possible as early as next week.
Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Although far too many good bills continue to collect dust on Senator Reid’s desk, I am pleased he has finally decided to move the USA FREEDOM Act. There is no excuse not to pass this fundamental piece of legislation during the lame duck. Once the Senate acts, I encourage my colleagues in the House and the President to be prepared to promptly enact it into law. Senator Leahy and I introduced the USA FREEDOM Act over a year ago. It is past time for Washington to ensure Americans’ civil liberties are protected while preserving important intelligence gathering authorities that are vital to our national security.”Read More
Members of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), today sent the following letter to Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) requesting a mark-up of H.R. 3465, the Second Chance Reauthorization Act:
Dear Chairman Goodlatte:
We write to respectfully request that the House Judiciary Committee schedule a mark-up of the Second Chance Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3465).
As you know, the Over-Criminalization Task Force’s hearings have revealed several problems facing the criminal justice system. While many of these issues are complex and require novel legislative reforms that may be impracticable to introduce and move this session, the Judiciary Committee can and should use the remaining days left in session to ensure that initiatives with proven outcomes, like Second Chance, continue to protect public safety.
Since the Second Chance Act was signed into law by President Bush in 2008, over 90,000 men, women, and youth returning home from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities have benefited from Second Chance grants providing career training, mentoring, family-based substance abuse treatment, and other evidence-based reentry programs.
This investment has paid off in public safety dividends. The enclosed reports from the National Reentry Resource Center highlight how numerous states have experienced drastic reductions in statewide recidivism rates as a result of robust reentry services made possible in part through Second Chance.
The outcomes are impressive, but state and local governments as well as non-profit organizations are in dire need of resources in order to ensure that the millions of individuals returning from prison, jail, and juvenile facilities each year continue to receive coordinated evidence-based reentry services.
As you know, we have made several improvements to the legislation. Underutilized or redundant programs have been cut, additional accountability measures have been added for grantees, the authorization level has been reduced from $160 million to $100 million per year, and the types of grants available to community and faith-based non-profits have been expanded. As a result, we have garnered significant bipartisan support in the House and Senate, and as evidenced in the enclosed letter, nearly 482 law enforcement, faith-based and other community organizations from across the country have endorsed the bill.
Our constituents understand that successful reentry means safer communities and are eager for Congress to take action to reauthorize this critical program.
Thank you for your leadership on this Committee and for your commitment to protect public safety through recidivism reduction programs. We look forward to working with you to advance this vital legislation.
Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) today continued his oversight of civil asset forfeiture, sending the below letter to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding federal adoption.
On October 16, Congressman Sensenbrenner sent oversight letters to the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Acting Director of the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency requesting information on each agency’s participation in the Department of Justice’s asset forfeiture program, specifically their processes for administrative review of property seizures.
Dear Attorney General Holder:
Federal adoption occurs when a federal agency adopts a seizure from a state or local law enforcement agency and proceeds with federal forfeiture. Numerous Department of Justice (DOJ or Department) entities are authorized to adopt state and local seizures. Under the Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, DOJ will share up to 80 percent of forfeited funds with the seizing agency.
Federal adoptions have grown exponentially in recent years. From 2001 to 2013, state and local law enforcement made nearly 62,000 cash seizures without a warrant or criminal indictment through the Equitable Sharing Program. State and local authorities have received over $1.7 billion from these seizures while federal agencies have kept $800 million.
The Equitable Sharing Program is frequently criticized because it allows state and local police to ignore restrictions on civil asset forfeiture in their home states. In some cases, it gives them a direct financial incentive to do so. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice found that local and state police are in fact more likely to rely on the federal Equitable Sharing Program if they work in a state where civil forfeiture is more difficult or less rewarding. The disturbing conclusion is that local agency’s rely on the Equitable Sharing Program to circumvent state law.
The implications on civil liberties are dire. The right to own property is a fundamental right implicitly recognized in the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. I also believe that it is a human right.
Daniel Webster warned that “[g]ood intentions will be pleaded for every assumption of power.” With federal adoption, the federal government gives DOJ’s imprimatur to state cases and then shares proceeds of the forfeiture with the very law enforcement agency that seized the property. The conflict of interest for these state and local agencies is so stark, over a right so critical, that it screams for protections and redundancies of protections against abuse. It is therefore critical that the Department maintain clear standards regarding how its entities weigh and ultimately adopt state and local cases.
To help further understanding of the Department’s policies regarding federal adoption, please respond to the following questions by November 14, 2014.
• Please describe the federal adoption process from the time a state applies for adoption through a final decision.
• What percentage of state requests are ultimately adopted? What is the breakdown of adoptions among the Department’s law enforcement entities?
• To apply for federal adoption, a state or local agency must fill out Form Dag-71. The form requires an “immediate probable cause review” if certain specified conditions are not met. What does this review involve? Is the review always conducted prior to adoption when the specified conditions are not met?
• Seizures must be based on probable cause. What evidence does the Department require to ensure that the standard of proof has been met prior to adopting a seizure?
• Does a federal adoption represent a DOJ determination that there was probable cause to support the state or local seizure?
• What officials are authorized to approve a request for adoption?
With your response, please provide 25 samples of closed DEA and ATF case files. Please ensure that the files contain all the documents originally contained therein. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important issue.
2449 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., (Jim), represents the Fifth Congressional District of Wisconsin. The Fifth District includes parts of Milwaukee, Dodge and Waukesha counties, and all of Washington and Jefferson counties.
Jim was born in Chicago and later moved to Wisconsin with his family. He graduated from the Milwaukee Country Day School and did his undergraduate studies at Stanford University, where he majored in political science. He then earned his law degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968.
After serving ten years in the Wisconsin State Legislature, Jim ran for a U.S. House seat and was elected in November, 1978. He has been reelected since 1980.
Jim’s current committee assignments include serving on the Committee on Science and Technology and the Committee on the Judiciary. Congressman Sensenbrenner is Chairman of the Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Oversight Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and Internet, and the Subcommittees on Environment and Oversight.
He is the former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and as a long-serving committee member, Jim has established a strong record on crime, intellectual property and constitutional issues. Previously, Jim also served as Chairman of the House Committee on Science, where he solidified his reputation as an independent leader on science issues, as well as oversight.
Throughout his public life, Jim has been at the forefront of efforts to preserve the sanctity of life, eliminate wasteful government spending and protect the interests of American taxpayers. He has regularly been cited by the National Taxpayers Union as one of the most fiscally responsible House Members and is well known for completing his financial disclosure forms down to the penny.
Jim is proud of his many legislative achievements that have helped improve the lives of many during his tenure in Congress.
In 1977, Jim married Cheryl Warren of Green Bay, Wisconsin, a staunch advocate for the rights of the disabled. They have two adult children, Frank and Bob. In his free time, Jim enjoys watching the Packers and reading.
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President Obama Awards Army First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing the Medal of Honor: http://t.co/aUoCBEebHw