Washington, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today approved by a vote of 14-10 the Citizens’ Right to Know Act (H.R. 2152). This bill ensures oversight of pre-trial release programs, which allow accused criminals to await their trial at home instead of in jail.
Since their inception, pre-trial release programs have expanded well beyond their scope and purpose. Today there are over 300 pre-trial release programs nationwide whose participants routinely include violent and repeat offenders. In many instances, the federal government has become a major source of funding for pre-trial release programs. The Citizens’ Right to Know Act requires state and local governments that receive Department of Justice grants for pre-trial services to report on the amount of funding received and information about participating defendants. Those who fail to comply with the reporting requirements will receive reduced allocations for future pre-trial services grants.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas), chief sponsor of the bill, applauded today’s Committee passage in the statements below.
Chairman Goodlatte: “The primary duty of the federal government is to keep Americans safe, and we must ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being used to allow hardened, violent criminals return to the streets while they await their trial. The Citizens’ Right to Know Act provides robust oversight of grants used by state and local governments that allow defendants to await their trial at home instead of in jail. This much-needed oversight will provide Congress information on how federal funds are being used and who are benefiting from these programs so that reforms can be made if necessary. I thank Representative Poe for his work to keep Americans safe from dangerous criminals and urge the House to take up this bill without delay.”
Representative Poe: “Each year, millions of dollars in federal grant money are allocated to state and local pre-trial release programs. These programs allow criminals to be released and await trial at home. The reality is that these programs are often overused, releasing dangerous and repeat criminals back into our community with little to no oversight. Once free from the threat of prison, there is nothing to prevent a wrongdoer from committing yet another crime. Citizens Right to Know alters this dangerous practice for pre-trial release programs that use federal funds by requiring record-keeping and reporting on participants, specifically whether the defendants have a history of criminal behavior, whether or not they actually appear for their trial, and whether they have ever failed to appear for trial in prior cases. It’s time for the federal government to end the taxpayer-funded bailout of hardened criminals.”