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Legislature Immediately Enacts Toughest Laws in the Nation to Combat Terrorism, Punish Terrorists and Respond to Terrorist Attacks
In the wake of the tragic attack on the World Trade Center, Governor George E. Pataki today joined NYPD Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik and other law enforcement officials at a bill signing ceremony to mark the passage by the State Legislature of the toughest and most comprehensive package of anti-terrorism laws in the nation. The Governor called a Special Session of the Legislature, which took place today in Albany, to enact the legislation.
The sweeping legislation will establish six new penal law offenses for persons who commit terrorist acts, make terrorist threats, solicit or provide material support for terrorist acts or hinder the prosecution of terrorists. Additionally, the legislation will enhance penalties for those who falsely report an incident or place a false bomb and would designate those crimes as violent felony offenses. The package will also enable New York State to immediately enter the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which establishes a mutual partnership with other states to provide aid and assistance in times of emergency.
"New York State has witnessed the horrible effects of terrorism and we will not tolerate it," Governor Pataki said. "By enacting the toughest laws in the nation to combat terrorism we're sending a clear message to potential terrorists that New Yorkers have every intention of fighting back. This comprehensive legislation will provide the legal and strategic weapons we need to help save lives and prevent future tragedies from occurring."
A wide range of State, local and federal officials have expressed their public support for the package that was submitted earlier today to the Senate and Assembly, including the following:
NYPD Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik said, "The NYPD and the people of New York City are left with too many devastating reminders of the impact of terrorism to do anything less than throw our full support behind this legislative package. Now more than ever, New York State needs to maximize the resources and avenues available to it to fight and prevent these despicable acts. I congratulate the Governor and the State Legislature for approving this package."
Joe Allbaugh, Director of FEMA said, "I applaud Governor Pataki's leadership and the immediate action of the New York State Legislature to become a participant in EMAC, which will provide additional resources for recovery operations already underway. This agreement will allow other member states to provide immediate support as needs are identified through the streamlined process put in place."
New York State Director of Criminal Justice, Katherine N. Lapp said, "This legislation is critical to New York's fight against the horror of violent terrorist attacks. It will provide critical investigative tools to assist law enforcement officials and prosecutors, and includes tough new penalties to punish those involved in terrorist acts."
Superintendent of the New York State Police James W. McMahon said, "The New York State Police need this aggressive legislation to help us bring anyone who commits barbaric acts of terrorism in New York to justice. We strongly support this package of new laws."
New York State Emergency Management Office Director Edward F. Jacoby, Jr. said, "In times of emergency the EMAC initiative will expedite equipment and resources from across the nation by directly linking New York State to dozens of our sister states and two territories."
Horrifying acts of terrorism, such as the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, underscore the compelling need to bring terrorists to justice and hold them accountable for their atrocious acts. The multi-faceted initiative will enable New York to combat terrorism through new and increased criminal penalties, the development of mechanisms to deny sanctuary and financial support for terrorists, and enhanced cooperation with other jurisdictions to ensure New York does not become a safe haven or launching point for terrorists acts.
The six new terrorism offenses created by this initiative are:
1. Crime of terrorism. A person is guilty of this offense when he or she commits a "specified offense" with intent to accomplish one of the following three goals: 1) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; 2) influence the policy of a unit of government; or 3) affect the conduct of a unit of government.
A "specified offense" is any class A felony (other than a drug offense), any violent felony offense, manslaughter in the second degree, criminal tampering in the first degree, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the specified offenses.
If the specified offense is a class B, C, D or E felony, the punishment shall be one category higher. For example, a person who commits Assault in the first degree, a class B violent felony (punishable by up to 25 years in state prison) with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population will be subject to a class A-I felony sentence (punishable by up to life in state prison.) If the underlying specified offense is itself a class A-I felony offense, then the minimum punishment must be life imprisonment without parole. If the specified offense is murder in the first degree, a sentence of death is authorized.
2. Making a terrorist threat. A person is guilty of this offense when he or she threatens to commit a crime of terrorism (see #1 above) and thereby causes a reasonable expectation or fear of the imminent commission of such offense. This offense is punishable as a class D violent felony, with a sentence of up to 7 years in state prison.
3. Soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism in the first degree. A person is guilty of this offense when he or she solicits or provides material support or resources in New York, with a value in excess of $1,000, and intends that such will be used in any phase of committing, concealing, or escaping from an act of terrorism, regardless of where the act of terrorism was committed or intended to be committed. This offense is punishable as a class C violent felony offense, with a sentence of up to 15 years in state prison.
4. Soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism in the second degree. This offense covers the same pernicious activities as the second degree offense (see # 3 above), without regard to the value of the material support or resources. This offense is punishable as a class D violent felony offense, with a sentence of up to 7 years in state prison.
5 . Hindering prosecution of terrorism in the first degree. A person is guilty of this offense when he or she renders criminal assistance to a person who has committed an act of terrorism that resulted in death, knowing or believing that the person has engaged in such conduct. A person "renders criminal assistance" when he or she harbors or conceals a terrorist, provides a terrorist with money, transportation or a weapon, or suppresses physical evidence, among other types of assistance. This offense is punishable as a class B violent felony offense, with a sentence of up to 25 years in state prison.
6. Hindering prosecution of terrorism in the second degree. This offense covers the same activities as the second degree offense (see # 5 above), without regard to whether the act of terrorism resulted in the death of another person. This offense is punishable as a class C violent felony offense, with a sentence of up to 15 years in state prison.
Revision to the Death Penalty Statute
The legislation will also amend the death penalty statute to make a person who intentionally murders another person in furtherance of an act of terrorism eligible for the death penalty. Under current law, the commission of such a heinous murder is not a sufficient basis for the death penalty.
Falsely Reporting an Incident and Placing a False Bomb
1. Enhancing penalties for those who falsely report an incident. Under the new law, a person who falsely reports a bomb threat in any public building will be treated as a violent felon subject to up to seven years in state prison.
2. Enhancing penalties for those who place a false bomb. Under the new law, a person who places any device that appears to be a bomb but is not in fact operational in any public building will be treated as a violent felon also subject to up to seven years in prison.
Eavesdropping and Video Surveillance Warrants
To further enhance public safety, the legislative package adds the new crimes that are created by the terrorism bill, as well as falsely reporting an incident and placing a false bomb, to the list of designated offenses that enable law enforcement authorities to obtain eavesdropping or video surveillance warrants.
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact ("EMAC")
Additionally, the Governor's initiative includes EMAC, a mutual aid agreement between membership states. Approved by Congress in 1996, 34 states and the territory of Puerto Rico have ratified EMAC. Member states include Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida. To become a member of EMAC, a state must pass legislation approving the compact. EMAC member states are able to quickly ask for and receive emergency services from other member states.
The emergency forces of any state offering assistance to another state are afforded the same rights, duties and privileges as the emergency personnel of the home state (except for the power of arrest).
EMAC also provides for clear, predictable and standardized operating procedures for member states. Officers of the state offering assistance are considered agents of the state requesting assistance for purposes of tort liability and immunity. Thus, states offering assistance and their employees and officers cannot be held liable with respect to good faith acts or omissions committed in providing assistance within another member state. Member states are required to provide for the payment of compensation or death benefits to injured members of their own emergency forces, to the extent that any injuries are sustained while assisting in an emergency in another state, as if the injuries were sustained in the employee's home state. EMAC requires the state requesting assistance to reimburse other member states for expenses incurred in responding to an emergency, but also permits the states offering assistance to assume, in whole or in part, any loss, expense or other cost.
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