TO HR 4092 (THE CRIME BILL)
19th and 20th April 1994
Stupak is the gentleman from Michigan
(Mr. STUPAK asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. STUPAK. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the Pryce-Stupak amendment to H.R. 4092, the crime bill. Our amendment prohibits the use of free weights by, and the teaching of self-defense to, Federal prison. This amendment will go a long way toward ensuring a higher degree of workplace safety for our corrections officers.
In last year's Easter riot at the Lucasville Prison, inmates used free weights to batter down a concrete wall protecting guards. This enabled the inmates to take 11 guards hostage. One of those 11 guards was murdered. Last month, inmates used weight-lifting equipment as weapons against corrections officers in a riot at Rikers Island Prison in New York. One guard was beaten within an inch of his life with a 50 pound weight .
We must do a better job to ensure that the danger associated with working in prisons is minimized. We must do more to ensure that these dedicated correctional officers can tell their families, with some degree of certainty, that they'll be home at the end of the day. The Pryce-Stupak amendment is not the singular solution to the increasing violence against correctional officers by bigger, stronger bulked up prisoners. But this is an amendment, in the right direction, and will help to send the message that prison is for punishment and rehabilitation, not a place to refine the skills that landed one in prison.
I would urge all of my colleagues to support the Pryce-Stupak amendment to the crime bill.
b>--Chapter 303 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
`4047. Strength-training of prisoners prohibited
`The Bureau of Prisons shall take care that--
`(1) prisoners under its jurisdiction do not engage in any activities designed to increase their physical strength or their fighting ability; and
`(2) that all equipment designed for this purpose be removed from Federal correctional facilities.'
(b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 303 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
`4047. Strength-training of prisoners prohibited.'.
It is appalling to think that someone who has been convicted of a violent crime could use the taxpayer's money and resources to become even more capable of violent acts. In addition, I am aware of incidents in the gentlelady's home State of Ohio and in New York in which prisoners used weight lifting equipment as riot weapons. Why should we give those who have violated the safety of our communities additional resources to wreak havoc?
We need to make sure that individuals in prisons spend their time learning not to break the law again, not getting themselves pumped up at taxpayer's expense. Certainly, I know, and my colleagues acknowledge, that this one measure will not solve our Nation's crime problem. But I don't see any reason for us not to take all the steps we can while we have the chance. I thank Congresswoman Pryce for her work on this measure, as well as the work done by my colleague from Michigan, Congressman Stupak. Congresswoman Pryce is a much valued member of the law enforcement caucus which Congressman Stupak and I cochair. With this proposal, we can show our commitment to helping our Nation's law officers. I urge the House to adopt this measure.
I realize my amendment is not a cure-all to crime. However, it is an important first step toward enabling the victims of crime to regain the upper hand. My amendment will not deprive prisoners of anything essential to their health or rehabilitation.
Why should be give convicted felons the ability to defeat us in our homes, on our streets, and within the correctional systems themselves. Mr. Chairman, who's running the prisons anyway? This amendment is a practical approach to protecting the public and our prison personnel right now. If you do not want to build a better thug, support the Pryce amendment.
Mr. McCOLLUM. I thank the gentlewoman for her remarks, and I want to continue that by closing out my 30 seconds. The amendment of the gentlewoman from Ohio [Ms. Pryce] is super. She did not explain it during that 30 seconds, and probably did not have the time. But it involves the prohibiting of the Federal Bureau of Prisons from allowing prisoners under its jurisdiction from engaging in any activity designed to unduly strengthen their physical condition. I have had a lot of complaints about that. So I am very happy that it is here. The rest of the amendments are very, very important. I am happy to support this en bloc amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. Chairman, today the House of Representatives is debating the issue of crime. I am offering an amendment which is a simple but a significant step toward reducing the threat of violence in America. My amendment will address a dual threat to our Nation's corrections officers and the general public. First, it will make our prisons safer by reducing the risk of assault and injury to prison personnel. Second, it will help protect potential victims of violent crime. Specifically, my amendment will prohibit the Federal Bureau of Prisons from allowing prisoners to engage in certain activities which are designed to increase their physical strength and enhance their fighting ability. The types of activities which would be prohibited include training with free weights or martial arts instruction.
This amendment makes good common sense. History has unfortunately proven that weights and weight bars can be effectively used inside prisons as weapons. In my own State of Ohio last year, inmates at the Lucasville Prison used weight lifting bars to break through concrete stairwells in order to kidnap guards seeking refuge during an 11-day riot killing nine people. In addition, on March 14, 1994, 15 corrections officers and 10 inmates were injured in the Rikers Island prison gymnasium. In that incident, inmates hit two officers over the head with a 50-pound weight , and the two officers were seriously injured and hospitalized. It simply defies logic that we are using taxpayers' money to buy state-of-the-art health clubs for convicted criminals. In effect, our taxpayer dollars are being used to build bigger and better thugs.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], 81 percent of the assaults on law enforcement officers in the United States during 1992 were committed with personal weapons, such as hands, fists, and feet. Our current prison system provides convicted felons, many of whom are already prone to violence, the chance to significantly increase their strength and their bulk--thus making future acts of violence even more likely.
This proposal is not based on idle speculation, but rather on statistical fact. According to a 1991 survey, 54 percent of inmates convicted of violent crimes used no weapon other than their own body when they committed their offense. Thus, by building a better thug, we are actually providing the weapon used in many violent crimes. Finally, of the 50,000 violent criminals put on probation during 1992, over 9,000 were rearrested for a violent crime within 3 years in the same state. Mr. Chairman, I think these statistics speak for themselves.
As a former prosecutor and judge who worked directly with law enforcement, jail and prison personnel, I know full well the value of exercise and stress reduction as an inmate management tool. However, there are many other forms of exercise--including basketball, jogging, aerobics, handball, and calisthenics--that cost much less and make much more sense.
I strongly believe that prison rehabilitation programs should focus on giving inmates the proper education and job skills needed to become productive members of society. State and Federal studies show that education and job training reduce recidivism and assist many exoffenders in obtaining gainful employment. By contrast, weight training and boxing classes can hardly be described as essential programs to provide prisoners with necessary job training skills.
Mr. Chairman, this amendment has been endorsed by the Law Enforcement Alliance of America; the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers; the National Association for Crime Victims Rights; the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police; the Buckeye State Sheriff's Association; the California Peace Officer's Association; Citizens for Law and Order; Victims of Irreparable Crime Experience; the Southern States' Police Association; and many others.
Congressional Record - House pg. H2512 20 Apr 1994
(Ms. PYRCE of Ohio asked for and was given permision to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend her remarks.)
Ms.PRYCE of OHIO. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in support for the Pryce-Stupak amendment, a simple, commonsense step toward reducing violence in America and addressing the rights of crime victims. Very simply, it prohibits weight training and fighting instruction withing our Federal prisons. With the dual benefit of making prisons safer for our corrections officers and helping protect potential crime victims.
Not only is this equipment used inside prisons as weapons- but it also supplies a means for many prisoners, already prone to violence, to increase their strength and bulk. We have unwittingly been mass producing a super breed of criminals.
As a former prosecutor and judge, I understand the value of exercise as an inmate mangement tool. But, there are so many other forms of exercise - including basketball, jogging, aerobics, handball, and calisthenics - that cost much less and make more sense.
It defies logic that we are using tax payers money to provide state--of-the-art health clubs for convicted criminals. This is not a bread and water measure. Some of these prisons have larger weight programs than many high school athletic departments.
The Pryce-Stupak amendment is not a cure-all to crime. But, it is an important step for victims rights. Mr. Speaker, who is running our prisons anyway? If you want to stop building a better thug, suport the Pryce-Stupak amendment. Let us replace barbells with books.
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