WASHINGTON -- Chairman Strom Thurmond of the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced sweeping anti-crime legislation Wednesday and President Reagan strongly endorsed the proposal as 'long overdue.'
The comprehensive measure is considered a last-ditch effort to push a crime bill through Congress this year.
A rewrite of the federal criminal code, on which Thurmond has worked for more than a decade, ran into severe roadblocks earlier in the year and had to be abandoned.
Only hours after Thurmond unveiled the package, the WhiteHouse issued a statement from the vacationing president who said, 'This legislation contains several statutory reforms that are long overdue.'
Reagan, who is in California, said the measure contained 'major crime fighting initiatives.'
Thurmond, R-S.C., called his package a 'big step toward controlling the number one threat to organized society -- crime.'
'We cannot delay, not for a minute, our efforts to eradicate violent crime and drug trafficking,' he said. 'Society demands that we act -- as forthrightly as possible -- to give our law enforcement officials the power they need to fight back and win.'
The bill, which would change numerous provisions in the criminal statutes, was co-sponsored by Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
Among major provisions in the bill are:
-Tightening of the bail system to allow a judge to deny bond to a defendant he considers a danger to society and a 'presumption' that a defendant charged with drug trafficking or the use of a weapon in a violent crime is a danger to the community.
The bill would also tighten standards for bail release for those awaiting sentencing or appeal.
-Protection of witnesses and victims during and after a federal trial.
-Increased fines and penalties for people convicted of dealing in 'large amounts of the most dangerous drugs.'
-More uniform sentencing standards; abolishment of parole; limited 'good time' reductions.
-Commitment procedures for dangerous federal defendants found guilty by reason of insanity if no state would commit them.
-Making it a federal crime to kill, kidnap or assault certain White House officials, Cabinet members of Supreme Court justices.
-Expanding explosives offenses to cover arson; making it a federal crime to solict commission of a federal crime of violence; expanding dangerous crimes to include escape, murder, kidnapping, treason, espionage and sabotage; permitting electronic surveillance in life-endangering situations.