Press Releases

Rep. Ratcliffe bill advances to combat child exploitation

Washington, DC, April 5, 2017

Rep. John Ratcliffe’s (R-Texas) bill to combat child exploitation was approved Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee. The Strengthening Children’s Safety Act of 2017 (H.R. 1842), which aims to close loopholes in the federal laws that punish sex offenders, was passed by voice vote.

“There are few things more revolting than crimes committed against those most vulnerable in our society, and it’s the government’s responsibility to ensure such acts don’t go unpunished. I’m grateful the House Judiciary Committee approved my bill to ensure that sex offenders won’t escape the penalties they deserve due to loopholes in our federal laws,” Ratcliffe said.

“As a former federal prosecutor, I will always remember the child exploitation images I was forced to view from an evidentiary standpoint as the most disturbing and difficult part of my job. But the images of these horrific crimes against children should stick with us – they should haunt us – and then, they should spur us to action. I’m glad I’ve been able to continue my efforts to strengthen children’s safety as a Member of Congress, and I look forward to making ongoing progress in this space.”

The Strengthening Children’s Safety Act of 2017 closes two gaps in federal child exploitation laws to prevent offenders from eluding proper punishment. It accomplishes this by clarifying that offenders are not exempt from criminal penalties simply because of the type of court in which their crimes are convicted.

Specifically, Ratcliffe’s bill 1) closes the legal loophole that allows dangerous offenders to avoid facing enhanced imprisonment penalties for committing violent crimes under state law while also failing to properly register as a sex offender, and 2) closes the legal loophole that allows sex offenders to avoid facing steeper penalties if their previously committed sex offense arose under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

As a former U.S. Attorney, Ratcliffe’s prosecution and conviction of a Nacogdoches, Texas sheriff’s deputy for child sex crimes gained statewide acclamation. In Congress, he has continued his efforts to protect children through his work on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.