Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) today announced his intention to file legislation creating the crime of using the Internet and other communication channels to propagate so-called ‘kill lists’.
The Tarr bill creates penalties for anyone who attempts to induce, tempt, command, or entice another person to take action in a conspiracy to commit a crime involving acts dangerous to people, property or infrastructure. In a structure similar to the solicitation of a minor, prosecution under the proposed law will not require that another person respond to the directive.
“Around the world and across the nation we have too often witnessed violent and tragic acts of terrorism resulting in death and injury to innocent civilians. And, day after day we see evidence that acts of terrorism are not exclusively actions of direct violence.” said Senator Tarr. “Threats of violence and activities such as posting ‘kill lists’ that can lead to realized violence are debilitating to our communities and society. Dissemination of a ‘kill list’ should be a serious crime with serious punishments.”
Those charged and found guilty will be subject to penalties of up to 20 years in the state prison, a fine of not more than $20,000, or by both.
Unlike other legislation that requires a conspiracy, a scheme directly from one individual to at least one other, this bill establishes the crime of terror targeting by way of solicitation through communicating or distributing names of potential victims or infrastructure locations through any transmission system including telecommunications devices, electronic mail, Internet sites, or any similar medium of communication.
While lawmakers have previously established penalties for hoax biological, chemical and explosive devices as well as for those who make threats that result in the evacuation or disruption of specific places such as schools, places of assembly and public transportation which can result in 20 years of imprisonment existing law does not yet adequately encompass the new terror technique.
Key components of the Tarr bill include:
Defining solicitation through communication channels for the purpose of inciting violence, destruction of property or public alarm; and defining critical infrastructure as public or private infrastructure resource systems necessary to ensure or protect the public health, safety and welfare, including a public water system or source; and emergency, governmental, medical, fire or law enforcement response systems; public utility, financial and educational systems, Establishing penalties for criminal violations, Eliminating the statute of limitations for the crime of terror targeting, Empowering a court determination, after conviction, of the damage caused as a result of the defendant’s crime and, dependent on the defendant’s ability to pay restitution, assess the costs to the violator, Directing the Attorney General to undertake a review of all sections of the laws relative to acts of terrorism and make a report of recommendations to the Legislature.
“We need a fresh look at our existing anti-terror laws and we need to give law enforcement officials and prosecutors tools to reduce this type of threat so they can bring to justice anyone who engages in it. Without a strong response, we may see the rise of copycat list makers and a thinning of valuable public safety resources,” said Tarr.
Once filed, the new bill is expected to be referred to the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.