1976 Republican Platform: A Safe and Just Society

Every American has a right to be protected from criminals. Violence has no place in our land. A society that excuses crime will eventually fall victim to it. The American people have been subjected to an intolerable wave of violent crime.

The victim of a crime should be treated with compassion and justice. The attacker must be kept from harming others. Emphasis must be on protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty. Prevention of crime is its best deterrent and should be stressed.

Fighting crime is -- and should be -- primarily a local responsibility. We support the continuation of the federal help given through the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) to law enforcement officials in our states, counties and municipalities. Each state should have the power to decide whether it wishes to impose the death penalty for certain crimes. All localities are urged to tighten their bail practices and to review their sentencing and parole procedures.

The federal criminal code should include automatic and mandatory minimum sentences for persons committing offenses under federal jurisdiction that involve the use of a dangerous weapon; that involve exceptionally serious crimes, such as trafficking in hard drugs, kidnapping and aircraft hijacking; and that involve injuries committed by repeat offenders.

The work presently being done to tighten the anti-obscenity provisions of the criminal code has our full support. Since the jurisdiction of the federal government in this field is limited to interstate commerce and the mails, we urge state and local governments to assume a major role in limiting the distribution and availability of obscene materials.

We support the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. We oppose federal registration of firearms. Mandatory sentences for crimes committed with a lethal weapon are the only effective solution to this problem.

Sure and swift justice demands additional judges, United States Attorneys and other court workers. The Democrat Congress has created no new federal judgeships since 1970; we deplore this example of playing politics with the justice system.

Drug abuse is not simply a health problem, but also a very real law enforcement concern and a problem of worldwide dimension. Controlling drug abuse calls for the ratification of the existing international treaty on synthetic drugs, increased emphasis on preventing the diversion of amphetamines and barbiturates into illegal markets, and intensive efforts to keep drugs out of this country. Heroin continues to come across our borders. Drug enforcement agents and international cooperation must cut off this supply. We say: Treat the addicts, but, at the same time, remove the pushers from the street and give them mandatory sentences.

Juveniles now account for almost half the arrests for serious crimes -- murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. The cost of school violence and vandalism is estimated at $600 million annually, about what is spent on textbooks. Primary responsibility for raising our children, instilling proper values and thus preventing juvenile delinquency lies with the family, not the government. Yet when families fail, local law enforcement authorities must respond. Law enforcement block grant funds can be used by states in correcting and preventing juvenile delinquency. The LEAA should promote additional research in this area. The structure of the family must be strengthened. All enterprises have to be encouraged to find more jobs for young people. A youth differential must be included in the minimum wage law. Citizen action should let the television industry know that we want it to curb violence in programming because of its effect on our youth.

The criminal justice system must be more vigilant in preventing rape, eliminating discrimination against the victim and dealing with the offenders.

States should recognize that antiquated and overcrowded prisons are not conducive to rehabilitation. A high priority of prison reform should be to help the young first-time offender. There should be adequate separation of young from adult offenders, more relevant prison industries, better counseling, community-based alternatives and more help in getting a job for the offender who has served his or her time.

Terrorism -- both domestic and international -- must be stopped. Not only must the strongest steps be taken in the United States, but collective action must come from all nations. Deterring every form of hijacking calls for sanctions against countries that aid terrorists. The world community should take appropriate action to deal with terrorist organizations. We applaud the daring rescue by Israel of innocent civilian hostages who were kidnapped by terrorists. While we regret that loss of life was involved, the courageous manner in which the hostages were freed speaks eloquently to our abhorrence of world bandits.

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