09.30.09

Schiff, Bono Mack Praise Passage of Arson Registry Bill

Official Seal of the US House of Representatives

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

Schiff, Bono Mack Praise Passage of Arson Registry Bill

Legislation gives law enforcement valuable tool to prevent and convict arsonists

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-29) and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) today praised House passage of their legislation to help law enforcement and fire officials track convicted arsonists and prevent unnecessary disasters caused by arson.  The Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act, H.R. 1727, which Bono Mack reintroduced this year with Schiff, would establish a nationwide registry of convicted arsonists for law enforcement to better prevent repeat offenders.

“The Station Fire is a prime example of the devastation and destruction that arson can cause,” said Schiff.  “Having worked on arson cases as a federal prosecutor, I know firsthand the potential a Megan’s Law-type registry holds to help law enforcement catch arsonists and prevent additional fires.”
 
“Our law enforcement and fire officials deserve this valuable tool to better prevent criminal acts of arson,” said Bono Mack.  “In California, we know all too well the incalculable damage that can be caused by wildfire, and it’s always exponentially more devastating to learn that such disaster was caused at the hand of an arsonist. Too many brave lives have been lost because of arson – it is time we pass this legislation so that law enforcement officers can stop arsonists in their tracks and prevent unnecessary catastrophe.” 

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, burned over 160,000 acres in Los Angeles County and the Angeles National Forest, taking the lives of two brave firefighters. 

Statistics compiled by the California Department of Corrections show that within two years of parole, nearly 55% of criminal arsonists will return to prison.

The MATCH Act creates a national arson registry, available to law enforcement and fire investigators to help them track criminal arsonists, regardless where they live or work.  By creating a nation-wide database, the MATCH Act will enable law enforcement to share critical information across state lines and jurisdictions.  The information gathered will be utilized in conjunction with existing Federal efforts, including the US Fire Administration at the Department of Homeland Security and the National Fire Incident Reporting System.