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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 29, 1998
                   President Clinton:  Building Safer 
                 Communities by Taking Back Our Streets 
                      From Crime, Gangs and Drugs

                      A Record of Accomplishment:

                 Won Passage of the Most Comprehensive 
                            Crime Bill Ever:

In 1994, after more than six years of gridlock, a bipartisan majority in Congress passed the toughest, smartest Crime Bill in the nation's history. ["Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994," P.L.103-322] It passed with the strong support of every major law enforcement organization in the country, as well as prosecutors, mayors, and state and local officials. The new law now provides:

A targeted "Three-Strikes-and-You're-Out" provision to put career violent offenders behind bars for life.

An expanded death penalty for drug kingpins, murderers of federal law enforcement officers and nearly 60 additional categories of violent felons.

Funding for 100,000 more prison cells to help states ensure that violent offenders serve their full sentences.

Increased penalties for sex offenders and a registration requirement for violent sexual offenders.

More Police and Community Policing

The President's Plan to Put 100,000 More Police Officers on the Street Through Community Policing Represents the Federal Government's Biggest Commitment Ever to Local Law Enforcement. The President's plan will result in an almost 20 percent increase in the nation's police force levels. Already, the Administration has provided funding for over 75,000 officers, ahead of schedule to meet the President's pledge of providing 100,000 more police. [D.O.J. COPS Office, 5/98; Government Performance Results Act 1997 (attached to President's FY 98 Budget Request)]

Violent Crime Declines Every Year Under President Clinton. Preliminary data for 1997 show that violent crime declined by 5 percent, the sixth consecutive year of decline. Between 1992 and 1996, violent crime decreased by over 16 percent. In the violent crime category, murder and robbery show the greatest decline between 1996 and 1997 -- each down 9 percent. [FBI, Uniform Crime Report 1997 Preliminary Annual Release, 5/17/98]

Crime Has Dropped Sharply in Our Major Cities. From 1996 to 1997, serious crime (as measured by the Crime Index) has declined in cities in all population groups in the country, with cities in the three largest population groups (250,000 people or more) reporting the greatest decline, 5 percent each. For instance, within the last year, serious crime has declined 17 percent in Atlanta, 15 percent in Boston, 13 percent in Los Angeles, 7 percent in New York, 15 percent in Washington, D.C. and 8 percent in San Francisco. Notably, during this time, the murder rate has fallen 23 percent in Atlanta, 27 percent in Boston, 19 percent in Los Angeles, 22 percent in New York, 24 percent in Washington, D.C. and 28 percent in San Francisco.

The Rate of Juvenile Crime Is down. Over the past two years, there has been a decline in both the rates of murders committed by young people and youth violence in general.

While the juvenile violent crime arrest rate increased 62 percent between 1987 and 1993, it decreased 2.9 percent in 1995, the first decline in seven years. And in 1996, it dropped an additional 5.8 percent. [FBI, Uniform Crime Report, 1997]

The decrease in the juvenile murder arrest rate is even more significant, declining 15.2 percent in 1995 -- the largest one-year drop in more than 10 years. And in 1996, it decreased an additional 14.4 percent.

Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Criminals

Stood up to the Gun Lobby and Won Passage of the Brady Bill which provides for a 5-day waiting period and background checks of prospective handgun buyers. [Brady Bill, P.L. 10-159] In the three years since its enactment, over 300,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers have been prevented from buying guns. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, Press Release, 2/25/97]

Banned the Manufacture and Importation of 19 of the Deadliest Assault Weapons while specifically protecting more than 50 legitimate sporting weapons. Cop-killing assault weapons, like the Uzi, are the weapons of choice for drug dealers and gangs -- not hunters and sportsmen. ["Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994", P.L.103-322]

Increasing Safety -- Banning the Importation of Modified Deadly Weapons. Recently, President Clinton announced a general ban on the importation of more than 50 non-recreational, modified assault weapons. The Treasury Department concluded that modified semiautomatic assault rifles that accept large capacity military magazines -- or LCMM rifles -- are not "particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes" and are generally not importable. The more than 50 models of firearms affected by the decision are modified versions of military assault weapons that were banned by the Bush Administration in 1989 or by the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.

Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative. The President launched the Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative (YCGII) in 27 target cities to crack down on the illegal gun markets that supply firearms to juveniles and criminals. The YCGII has already traced more than 93,000 guns, providing law enforcement with crucial investigative leads about illegal gun trafficking. The President's FY99 budget includes $12 million for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to work with local police departments in the 27 target cities to trace all firearms recovered from crime scenes and help determine local gun trafficking patterns. The budget also provides $16 million to hire 162 new ATF agents, 6 per target city, to investigate and arrest the illegal gun traffickers who are supplying guns to kids and gangs.

Child Safety Locks for Handguns. The President signed a directive to every federal agency, requiring child safety locking devices with every handgun issued to federal law enforcement officers. And, in an historic agreement, eight major gun manufacturers followed the President's lead and have voluntarily agreed to provide child safety locking devices with all their handguns. [Memorandum on Child Safety Lock Devices for Handguns, 3/5/97; President's remarks, 10/9/97]

Combating Drug Use

The Largest Anti-Drug Budgets Ever. Year-in and year-out, President Clinton has proposed the largest anti-drug budgets ever. Between 1996 and 1998, resources for drug control increased by 19 percent, from $13.5 billion in FY 1997 to $16 billion in FY98. The President's FY99 drug budget is $17.1 billion, including increases of $256 million for youth drug prevention, $364 million for domestic law enforcement, and $189 million for interdiction.

Developed a Comprehensive National Drug Control Strategy. For the first time ever, the 1998 Strategy provides a ten-year plan to reduce drug use and its consequences in the United States by 50 percent -- to historic lows. This Strategy will reduce illegal drug use through law enforcement, prevention, treatment, interdiction and international efforts. This Strategy is backed by a five-year budget and performance benchmarks.

Targeting Young People with a $195 Million National Anti-Drug Media Campaign. The President is launching a massive national media campaign to motivate America's youth to reject illegal drugs and substance abuse. This unprecedented $195 million paid media campaign relies on high-impact, anti-drug television and radio advertisements aired during prime-time. In July, the campaign will go nationwide.

Developed a Comprehensive Strategy to Combat the Trafficking and Abuse of Methamphetamine. The President fought for and signed a methamphetamine strategy that increases penalties for trafficking in meth, and toughens the penalties for trafficking in those chemicals used to produce meth.

Mandatory Comprehensive State Drug Testing Plans for Prisoners and Parolees. President Clinton fought for and signed legislation requiring states to submit drug testing plans for prisoners and parolees which would send them back to prison if they get back on drugs.

Overall Drug Use is Down. From 1979 to 1996, the number of people (12 and older) regularly using drugs in America has plummeted 49 percent, from 25.4 million to 13 million people. Similarly, the number of cocaine users has dropped 70 percent in the last decade (from 5.7 million in 1985 to 1.7 million in 1996).

Youth Drug Use Is Beginning to Reverse. For the first time since 1992, illicit drug use among 12 to 17 year-olds has declined. Between 1995 and 1996, teen drug use fell from 10.9 percent to 9 percent.

Crack Use is Declining. The most recent data from the Drug Use Forecasting Program show a decline in crack use by arrestees across the nation -- a good indication that the crack epidemic that began in 1987 has finally begun to abate.

Good News on Methamphetamine. Meth use is down in the eight cities that had been suffering the highest increases in use: 52 percent drop in Dallas; 20 percent drop in San Jose; 19 percent in San Diego; 34 percent in Portland; and over 40 percent in Denver, Omaha and Phoenix.

Fighting to End Domestic Violence

Championed the Violence Against Women Act, the cornerstone of the President's efforts to fight domestic violence which included $1.6 billion over five years to hire more prosecutors and improve domestic violence training among prosecutors, police officers, and health and social services professionals. And created an office at the Department of Justice dedicated to combating violence against women.

Signed into Law an Extension of the Brady Law, which prohibits anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense -- misdemeanor or felony -- from owning or possessing a firearm.

More than Tripled Funding to Domestic Violence Shelters and instituted new penalties against men who stalk, threaten or abuse women across state lines.

Established Nationwide 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline. The hotline (1-800-797-SAFE) provides immediate crisis intervention, counseling and referrals for those in need. Since the hotline opened, there have been over 140,000 calls from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Making Our Schools and Communities Safer

Strengthening and Expanding the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. President Clinton expanded the Drug-Free Schools Act into the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Act of 1994, making violence prevention a key part of this program. The Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program provides support for violence and drug prevention programs to 97 percent of the nation's school districts. Schools use these funds to keep violence, drugs and alcohol away from students and out of schools. The President's FY99 budget expands the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program by $50 million to fund 1,300 Drug and Violence Prevention Coordinators that will help junior high and middle schools across the country develop and implement effective strategies to keep our kids safe and away from drugs.

Providing After School Opportunities for Up to Half a Million Children a Year. Last year, the President fought for, and won, a $40 million expansion of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. Building on the success of this program, the President's FY99 budget includes a $200 million major expansion, which will provide safe and educational after school opportunities for up to 500,000 children. This increase will give more school-age children in rural and urban communities across the country positive learning opportunities and keep more kids off the streets in the after school hours when most violent juvenile crime occurs.

Gaining New Tools to Protect Our Youth from Violence and Drugs. Key elements of the President's Anti-Gang Youth Violence Strategy were included in the FY98 Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations Act. These funding measures -- $489 million for juvenile justice -- will give communities, schools, and families new tools to help keep kids safe from gangs and violence, and away from drugs. Included in this funding is over $110 million for prosecutors to curb gang violence, as well as funding for violent juvenile court assistance, which can help to fund probations officers -- both important elements of the President's Anti-Gang Youth Violence Strategy.

Encouraging Schools to Adopt School Uniform Policies. School uniforms have been found to be a promising strategy to reduce violence while promoting discipline and respect in school. Because of this, the Clinton Administration has encouraged schools to consider adopting school uniform policies by sharing with every school district a school uniforms manual prepared by the Department of Education in consultation with local communities and the Department of Justice.

Supporting Curfews at the Local Level. Because of the success of curfews in helping to fight juvenile crime and keeping children safe, the Clinton Administration has encouraged communities to adopt curfew policies. Studies have shown, including one issued by the Justice Department, that community-supported curfew programs are often successful in combating juvenile crime. For example, New Orleans' curfew program, in combination with summer jobs and recreational programs, resulted in a 27 percent drop in juvenile crime during curfew hours in 1994, compared to the previous year.

Helped Protect Families and Children Who Live in Public Housing from gangs, drugs and violent crime by instituting a "One-Strike-and-You're-Out" policy for residents who engage in criminal activity. [Housing Opportunity Program Extension Act of 1996, P.L. 104-120]

Increasing Penalties for Sexual Predators. The President fought for and signed "Megan's Law," which makes community notification concerning registered sex offenders mandatory. Megan's Law requires States to make public relevant information about child molesters and sexually violent offenders who are released from prison or placed on parole. [P. L. 104-145, Signed 5/17/96] And taking the next step, the President directed the Department of Justice to develop a plan for the implementation of a national sexual predator and child molester registration system. [Public Papers of the Presidents, Memorandum on the Development of a National Sexual Offender Registration System, 6/25/96]

Fewer Guns in the Hands of Our Children. President Clinton signed into law a youth handgun ban in his 1994 Crime Bill. The ban makes it a federal offense for an adult to transfer a handgun to a juvenile, or for a juvenile under the age of 18 to knowingly possess a handgun or handgun ammunition.

Enforcing Zero Tolerance for Guns and Other Weapons in Schools. In October 1994, President Clinton signed into law the Gun-Free Schools Act, and issued a Presidential Directive later that month to enforce "zero tolerance" for guns in schools -- if a student brings a gun to school, that student will be expelled for a year. In school year 1996-97, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that, under zero tolerance policies, 6,093 students were expelled from public schools for bringing a firearm to school.

Securing America's Borders

Put More Manpower and Resources into Fighting Drugs at the Border. The number of Border Patrol agents guarding our Southwest Border has doubled -- from 3,389 in FY93 to 6,213 at the end of FY97. The number of Customs agents working on the Southwest Border has grown 16 percent from 2,000 in FY93 to 2,311 in FY97. The number of DEA, FBI, INS enforcement officers/agents and US marshals on the Southwest Border have also increased. Spending on Southwest Border counter-drug efforts has increased: Customs up 72 percent (FY93-97); FBI up 21 percent (FY93-97); DEA up 30 percent (FY93-97); INS up 96 percent (FY93-97); and US Attorneys up 45 percent (FY93-97). The FY99 budget adds to this 1,000 new Border Patrol agents, and $54 million to Customs for advanced inspection technologies.