12.05.07

House Passes Bono, Schiff Arson Prevention Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Coming on the heels of some of the most destructive wildfires in California’s history, the House today passed the Managing Arson Through Criminal History Act (MATCH, H.R. 1759).  The MATCH Act, introduced by Reps. Mary Bono (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) in March, would establish a comprehensive nationwide database to track convicted arsonists.  In early November, Reps. Schiff and Bono and Burbank Fire Chief Tracy Pansini testified at a Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee on behalf of the bill.

“This critically important legislation has the potential to prevent fire tragedies from striking again, and to assist in apprehending those responsible for arson,” said Schiff.  “I am pleased with the overwhelming bipartisan support for this measure.  Its passage will deter convicted arsonists from committing further offenses, and better protect our state and nation from devastating wildfires.”

“Currently, we don’t have any vehicle to track arsonists on the national level or state level even though it is known that an individual that committed an act of arson is more likely to commit a future act,” said Burbank Fire Chief Tracy Pansini in testimony before Congress in November.  “Generally, when it gets too hot for arsonists they move to other areas, but with a MATCH Act registry in place we would be better equipped to find a prolific arsonist.”

The MATCH Act, strongly supported by local law enforcement and fire authorities, would consolidate federal, state and local resources in combating arson.  The legislation mirrors existing national criminal databases.  It would create a national arson registry and would require convicted arsonists to report where they live, work and go to school.  The database would include finger and palm prints of the arsonist, a recent photograph, vehicle information, criminal history and other relevant information.  This database would only be available to law enforcement and not the general public. 

The MATCH Act also establishes the Criminal Arsonist Management Assistance Program, which ensures that jurisdictions have the necessary means to manage and maintain their local registry.

Rep. Schiff serves on the House Appropriations Committee in the 110th Congress and is a member of its Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee, the State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, and the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel.  He also serves on the House Judiciary Committee and its Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.  He represents California’s 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.