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Crime Control Act of 1970

October 15, 1970
Crime Control Act of 1970 Image courtesy of Library of Congress As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Emanuel Celler guided some of the eras most significant legislation to passage including landmark civil rights acts in the 1960s.
On this date, President Richard M. Nixon signed the Crime Control Act of 1970 (also known as the Organized Crime Act) a measure aimed at the mafia and other crime syndicates. The law standardized procedural rules for witnesses that included: perjury; witness protection; recalcitrant witnesses; and witness self-incrimination. It also contained a House amendment that stiffened punishments, providing for the death sentence for those convicted of murder in arson or bombing cases. Emanuel Celler, Judiciary Committee chairman, who argued that the measure required considerable review, held it in committee. However, when crime bill supporters threatened to use a discharge petition to bring the measure out of committee and onto the House Floor, Celler—still smarting from the successful discharge effort that dislodged the Equal Rights Amendment from his committee in August—released the bill. With November elections looming and the crime bill threatening to become a campaign issue, the House passed an amended version of the measure on October 7, 1970.

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