By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama issued a written statement on Tuesday after Congress adopted Sessions’ bipartisan proposal to help the U.S. Marshals Service track down fugitive sex offenders as part of the Child Protection Act.
Sen. Sessions said, “I am pleased to see my proposal finally pass, and grateful to Senators Cornyn and Blumenthal for including it in the Child Protection Act. I introduced the Finding Fugitive Sex Offenders Act in order to help the U.S. Marshals Service track down sex offenders who fail to register as required by law and attempt to evade detection. Speed is critical in child abduction cases. These investigations are often fast-moving, and I believe this law will prove to be a useful tool to help law enforcement find missing children. Many other investigative agencies already have this authority, but curiously it is not available in these critical situations. Now the Marshals Service can more easily track these offenders in real time across multiple jurisdictions and hopefully stop future crimes before they occur.”
Other federal agencies, including the IRS and the EPA, have administrative subpoena authority. Under current law the U.S. Marshals Service does not. Sessions introduced the Finding Fugitive Sex Offenders Act in March of 2011 to correct this disparity and give the U.S. Marshals Service the tools it needs to track down dangerous fugitives. Sessions’ legislation was bipartisan and had 21 cosponsors. It was included as part of the bipartisan Child Protection Act, which was introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R) from Texas and Richard Blumenthal (D) from Connecticut.
According to information from the U.S. Marshals fact sheet: The U.S. Marshals Service is the federal government’s primary agency for fugitive investigations and the agency holds all federal arrest warrants until execution or dismissal.
In fiscal year 2011, the Marshals apprehended more than 36,200 federal fugitives, clearing approximately 39,400 felony warrants. U.S. Marshals task forces combine the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to locate and arrest the most dangerous fugitives.
They also serve as the central point for agencies to share information on fugitive matters. The U.S. Marshals currently lead 75 district fugitive task forces and seven Congressionally-funded regional fugitive task forces dedicated to investigating violent crime and locating and apprehending wanted criminals.
Marshals-led district task forces arrested 86,400 state and local fugitives in FY 2011, clearing approximately 113,300 state and local felony warrants. The Marshals also lead ad-hoc task forces in special cases such as when an inmate escapes from prison. The U.S. Marshals Service works with the international law enforcement community to apprehend fugitives abroad as well as to seek foreign fugitives living or residing in the United States.
In 2011, the Marshals coordinated 894 extraditions and deportations. The Marshals have four foreign field offices in Jamaica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Colombia and work closely with law enforcement agencies along the borders of Mexico and Canada as well as the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. The agency also holds key positions at Interpol. In 2011 the Marshals apprehended 12,144 sex offenders.
The Marshals National Sex Offender Targeting Center is an interagency intelligence and operations center that supports the identification, investigation, location, apprehension and prosecution of noncompliant, unregistered fugitive sex offenders.
The center collaborates with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Department of Justice’s Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office to support all levels of law enforcement in pursuing unregistered and noncompliant sex offenders.
Senator Sessions is a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and prior to his service in the United States Senate worked in the Justice System first as a US Attorney for Alabama under President Ronald Reagan and later as Alabama’s Attorney General.