Pascrell Bill Would Impose Tough New Penalties for Bomb Threats
MEASURE WOULD IMPOSE FIRST FEDERAL MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES
WASHINGTON - Calling bomb threats "emotional terrorism at its very worst," Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) today introduced legislation that would, for the first time, require mandatory minimum sentences under federal law for those who make bomb threats against individuals, buildings, or property. Communities throughout New Jersey and across America have seen a dramatic increase in bomb threats in the wake of the attacks of September 11. The legislation is already co-sponsored by eleven House members, including Republican Reps. Ben Gilman of New York and Connie Morella of Maryland.
"False bomb threats are cowardly and dangerous and cannot be viewed as just silly pranks," said Pascrell. "These are serious crimes against our people that disrupt school days, frighten children and adults alike, and keep public safety personnel from attending to their life-saving work. People who make these threats against innocent people should pay a heavy price."
"The current law simply is not strong enough to adequately punish those who commit these acts of emotional terrorism, and we need to change it."
Current federal law recommends prison sentences ranging from ten months to six and a half years, depending on the criminal history of the perpetrator. There are no minimum sentencing requirements.
The bill is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Chiefs of Police.
Pascrell's legislation will toughen the law substantially. It will require any person with a criminal record found guilty of making a bomb threat to be sent to prison for at least three years. A repeat offender will be sentenced to a minimum of six years in prison, and those who did not have a prior record will face one year behind bars, no questions asked.
"These punishments will show would-be offenders that we mean business as a community and that these threats will no longer be tolerated," stated Pascrell. "As we continue to respond to the tragic events of one month ago, we must impose tougher penalties on cowards who seek to frighten and terrorize others."
In recent weeks, we have seen a rash of threats made against schools throughout North Jersey. For example, on October 2nd, dozens of schools were evacuated while students were supposed to be taking proficiency tests because of a bomb threat made by a Garfield man, Omar Tecat. One day later, two high schools in Passaic County were evacuated when a bogus threat was called into police.