09.09.09

Schiff, Bono Mack Call for Swift Passage of Arson Registry Bill

Official Seal of the US House of Representatives

Wednesday, September 09, 2009 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

Schiff, Bono Mack Call for Swift Passage of Arson Registry Bill

Highlight recent arson that caused the death of two firefighters and massive devastation

Washington, D.C. – Calling attention to the tragic fire caused by arson that resulted in the death of two firefighters, Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-29) and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45)  today urged Congressional leadership to act swiftly in passing their legislation to help law enforcement and fire officials track convicted arsonists and prevent unnecessary disaster caused by arson.  The Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act, H.R. 1759, which Bono Mack reintroduced this year with Schiff, would establish a nationwide registry of convicted arsonists for law enforcement to better prevent repeat offenders.

“Last week, I saw firsthand the terrible danger and catastrophic damage the Station Fire caused to homes in and around the Angeles forest,” Schiff said.  “There is no doubt in my mind that the MATCH Act would be a very useful tool, much like Megan’s Law, to both identify the perpetrators of arson and also to deter them.  The Station fire is only the most recent and most devastating example of the need to take stronger action to combat arson.”
 
“We should not delay in giving law enforcement and fire officials this valuable tool to better prevent criminal acts of arson,” said Bono Mack.  “I was deeply saddened to learn that the LA fire, which caused such heart-wrenching tragedy and destruction, was the result of arson.  We as Californians understand the incalculable damages that can be caused by wildfire, which makes it all the more essential that we do everything possible to prevent unnecessary and senseless disaster at the hand of an arsonist.  It is my hope that Congress will act quickly to pass this legislation so that repeat offenders are stopped in their tracks and our communities are better protected from those individuals bent on destruction.”

In their letter to House leadership, Bono Mack and Schiff emphasized that arson has caused some of the most devastating fires in California.  In 2006, five firefighters lost their lives battling the Esperanza Fire in Southern California, which was caused by arson.  This fire affected countless lives and property and destroyed hundreds of square miles of National Forest. This August, the Station Fire, which investigators believe to be caused by arson, has scorched 160,000 acres in Los Angeles County and the Angeles National Forest, taking the lives of two brave firefighters. 

Click here to view a PDF of Bono Mack and Schiff’s letter to Congressional leadership urging for the passage of the MATCH Act. 

The following is the text of the letter: 

September 9, 2009


The Honorable Nancy Pelosi,          
Speaker             
United States House of Representatives        
Office H-232, The Capitol          
Washington, D.C.  20515          

The Honorable John H. Boehner,
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives 
Office H-204
Washington, D.C.  20515

The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.,         
Chairman            
House Committee on the Judiciary         
2138 Rayburn House Office Building        
Washington, D.C.  20515          

The Honorable Lamar S. Smith,
Ranking Member
House Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20515

Re: H.R. 1727, the Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act of 2009

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

As Members of Congress from the State of California, we understand the destruction and devastation fire can cause.  Sometimes these fires occur naturally, however too often they do not.  We write to you today to respectfully request that the MATCH Act, which provides another tool to fight arson, be brought up under the suspension calendar as soon as possible.

Arson has been the cause of some of the most devastating fires in California.  In 2006, five firefighters lost their lives battling the Esperanza Fire in Southern California.  That fire affected countless lives, property and destroyed hundreds of square miles of National Forest.  It was also caused by a cowardly act of arson.  Today, arsonists continue to wreak havoc.  This August, the Station Fire has scorched 160,000 acres in Los Angeles County and the Angeles National Forest and taken the lives of two brave firefighters.  Investigators believe this fire was also ignited by an arsonist. 

In the 110th Congress, we introduced H.R. 1759, the Managing Arson Through Criminal History Act of 2007 ("MATCH Act").  This bipartisan bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.  Hearings were held and the bill was reported favorably in November of 2007 by voice vote.  One month later H.R. 1759 passed the House of  Representatives on the suspension calendar by voice vote.  Unfortunately, the MATCH Act stalled in the Senate.

This Congress we re-introduced the MATCH Act as H.R. 1727 and it was again referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.  As California and other states continue to deal with the devastation caused by arson, we believe that the time to act on this bill is now. 

Once again, we respectfully request that you bring this important bipartisan legislation to the floor as soon as possible so that we can provide investigators with a vital new tool in the battle against repeat arsonists.

     
Respectfully,