Reid Introduces Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act
Measure would create federal task force to crack down on crimes committed by polygamous organizations
July 23, 2008
Washington, D.C. –Aiding women and children affected by polygamy and cracking down on crimes committed by polygamist organizations are the goals of new legislation introduced today by Nevada Senator Harry Reid.
The Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act of 2008 targets the organized criminal behavior that is a hallmark of many polygamist organizations, including welfare fraud, tax evasion, extortion, kidnapping and transporting victims across state lines. The task force, which will include representatives of numerous federal agencies and the U.S. attorneys from affected states, will be charged with stepping up enforcement against criminal activities, tracking interstate activity, and assisting state and local law enforcement. The Act provides $2 million in federal grant funding to help states investigate and prosecute these crimes.
Women and children of polygamy are also frequently victims of domestic and sexual abuse, and are often threatened with retribution if they ever try to leave the group. The act provides $2 million in federal grant funding for 2009 and $2.5 million over each of the next four years to help victims of polygamy come forward by providing witness protection, housing, education, vocational training, mental health services, child care, and medical treatment.
“We are taking aim at the blatant and systematic crime that is rampant within these polygamist groups,” Reid said. “The suffering of innocent women and children because of these crimes is unconscionable. We’re going to work with federal and state law enforcement to root out these problems before they get any worse.”
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