Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today approved by a vote of 221-197 the Citizens’ Right to Know Act (H.R. 2152). This bill, introduced by Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas), ensures oversight of pre-trial release programs, which allow accused criminals to await their trial at home instead of in jail.
Pre-trial release programs were intended for certain lower-risk accused criminals. However, since their inception, pre-trial release programs have expanded well beyond their intended scope and purpose. Today there are over 300 pre-trial release programs nationwide whose participants routinely include violent and repeat offenders. In addition, in many instances, federal taxpayers’ dollars have become a major source of funding for pre-trial release programs.
The Citizens’ Right to Know Act requires state and local governments that receive Department of Justice grants for pre-trial services to report on the amount of funding received for pre-trial release services and to report information about participating defendants. Those who fail to comply with the reporting requirements will receive reduced allocations for future pre-trial services grants.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) applauded today’s House approval of this bill in the statement below.
Chairman Goodlatte: “The primary duty of the federal government is to keep Americans safe, and we must ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being used to allow hardened, violent criminals to return to the streets while they await their trials. The Citizens’ Right to Know Act requires the reporting of information and statistics about the grants used by state and local governments that allow defendants to await their trial at home instead of in jail. This commonsense oversight will provide Congress critical information on how taxpayer funds are being used and who is benefiting from these programs, so that reforms can be made if necessary. I commend Congressman Poe for his dedication to ensuring the safety of our communities and applaud the House for passing his bill today.”