Aimee’s LawIn 2002, Congress passed what is commonly referred to as “Aimee’s Law,” or the No Second Chances Act, in response to the tragic death of Aimee Willard, a 22 year-old college athlete who was kidnapped, raped, and killed in Pennsylvania by a convicted murderer who had been paroled from a Nevada prison after serving eleven years of a life sentence. Soon after, the Justice Department released statistics revealing that as many as 14,000 murders, sexual assaults, and rapes are committed every year by offenders who were previously incarcerated for committing similar crimes.
Under the terms of Aimee’s Law, 42 U.S.C. 13713, whenever a state convicts someone of murder, rape, or a dangerous sexual offense, and that person has a prior conviction for any of those offenses in a different state, it can apply to the Attorney General for $10,000 to be allocated for the cost of the apprehension and prosecution of the offender. It can also request $22,500 per year, for up to five years, for costs related to incarceration. However, in order to be eligible for compensation, the state must provide the Attorney General with the details of the case as well as a statement certifying that an individual who had previously committed a covered offense in another state, had been convicted of rape, murder, or a dangerous sexual offense.
If a request is granted, the funds are collected by reducing the amount of law enforcement assistance funds provided by the federal government to the state that convicted the offender of the prior crime. However, the Attorney General will give the state who convicted the offender the first time with an opportunity to select which assistance funds will be reduced, although they can never choose to reduce crime victim assistance funds. The Attorney General will then consult with the chief executive of the state that convicted the defendant of the prior offense before setting up a payment schedule. These funds will not detract from any restitution also ordered by the court.
ExceptionsThese provisions do not apply to states:
- Where the period of time in prison was no shorter than the average prison term sentence for that offense in all states across the nation
- When the individual in question had served no less than 85 percent of his or her sentence for the prior offense
Defining a Dangerous Sexual OffenseAimee’s Law only covers certain crimes committed by repeat offenders, including murder, rape, and dangerous sexual offenses. Although murder and rape are defined by the FBI, the meaning of the term dangerous sexual offense is included in the statute, which describes this type of offense as conduct that would constitute one of the following federal crimes if it had occurred in U.S. territorial jurisdiction:
- Aggravated sexual abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Sexual abuse of a minor
- Abusive sexual contact
- Sexual offenses resulting in death
- Deaths caused by negligence
- Death caused by accident
- Justifiable homicide
- Attempted murder.
Collecting DataAimee’s Law was passed in an effort to keep states from releasing dangerous offenders before the completion of their sentences. To help determine the effectiveness of the law, the Attorney General is required to collect certain information from each state regarding the number of convictions during each calendar year for:
- All dangerous sex offenses
- The number of convictions constituting second or subsequent convictions of the defendant for a covered offense