skip to main content

Senate Committee Approves Measures on Internet Crime and Domestic Violence

On May 15, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved, by voice vote, the Combating Child Exploitation Act (S. 1738) and the National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network Act (S. 1515). The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs held a hearing on the Combating Child Exploitation Act on April 16 (see The Source, 4/18/08).

Combating Child Exploitation Act

The Combating Child Exploitation Act would establish within the Office of the Deputy Attorney General a special counsel for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction to coordinate prevention and exploitation policies and strategies. The measure also would establish the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) that would consist of a national program of state and local law enforcement task forces dedicated to increasing the investigative capabilities of law enforcement officials in the detection, investigation, and apprehension of internet crimes against children offenses and offenders.

During consideration of the bill, the committee approved, by voice vote, a substitute amendment by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), the bill’s sponsor. The substitute would authorize funds from FY2009-2016 instead of FY2008-2015, as provided in the original bill. It also would prohibit the broadcast of live images of child abuse and the alteration of an image of a real child to create an image of sexually explicit conduct. In addition, the substitute would authorize $1 million for the National Institute of Justice to prepare a report indicating whether individuals under investigation for child exploitation pose further risk of harm to children.

S. 1738 would authorize $635 million annually for FY2009-2016 for a grant program to fund the task forces; $7 million for FY2009-2016 to pay for upgrades to forensic capacity of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies; and $170 million over seven years to hire additional Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents to work on child exploitation cases as part of the FBI’s Innocent Images National Initiative.

The measure also would authorize $15 million annually for FY2009-2016 to the Department of Homeland Security to hire new staff to work on preventing child exploitation and child obscenity, and $5 million annually for FY2009-2016 to the postmaster general to hire full-time postal inspectors to work on preventing child exploitation and child obscenity.

National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network Act

Sponsored by Sen. Biden, S. 1515 would amend the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162) to establish the Internet-based National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence.

S. 1515 would authorize $750,000 annually for FY2008 and FY2009 for grants to states that implement an attorney referral network pilot; $800,000 for FY2008 and FY2009 to train the volunteer attorneys in the areas of custody and child support, employment, housing, and immigrant victims’ legal needs; $500,000 annually in FY2008 and FY2009 to run the National Domestic Violence Hotline; and $100,000 annually for FY2008-2013 to fund a Domestic Violence Legal Advisory Task Force.

The measure would authorize $2 million for FY2008 and FY2009, and $3 million annually for FY2010-2013 to award grants to the American Bar Association Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and other organizations to create, recruit lawyers for, and provide training, mentoring, and technical assistance for a National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network.

S. 1515 also would establish a National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Referral Project pilot program in five states. States would be selected based on a demonstrated capacity to coordinate among local and statewide domestic violence organizations, the number of organizations serving immigrant women, volunteer legal services throughout the state, and equitable geographic distribution between urban and rural areas. The pilot program would establish a coordinated system to ensure that domestic violence victims throughout those states have access to safe, culturally, and linguistically appropriate representation in all legal matters resulting from abuse or violence. In addition, the program would support statewide legal coordinators in each state to manage attorney referrals for victims and to train attorneys on related domestic violence issues.

The measure also would direct the Government Accountability Office to examine the scope and quality of legal representation and advocacy for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

During consideration of the bill, the committee adopted, by voice vote, a substitute amendment by Sen. Biden that would double the authorization amount for grants to operate the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Initially, the bill would have authorized $250,000 annually for FY2008-2013; the substitute would authorize $500,000 annually.

The Spring 2023 internship applications are now open!Apply Now!
+