WASHINGTON — Legislation sponsored by Sen. William S. Cohen to create a model state anti-stalking law was given final approval by Congress Monday and sent to President Bush for his signature.
The measure was included in the State, Justice, Commerce appropriations bill for fiscal 1993. “The crime of stalking is frightening, insidious and on the rise, and I am gratified that Congress acted so quickly on this bill,” Cohen said.
“Numerous states are grappling with this problem and have indicated they welcome the help that will be provided by this measure.”
Cohen’s bill, which was the subject of a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee last Tuesday, directs the National Institute of Justice, the government’s principal research agency in the criminal justice field, to develop a model statute to give authorities the tools needed to apprehend stalkers before they do any harm, while protecting rights of free speech and movement.
“My goal in introducing this legislation was to help focus national attention on this very serious problem and ensure that our citizens are protected by enforceable anti-stalking statutes, no matter where they reside,” Cohen said.
Twenty-eight states have enacted anti-stalking laws, but many of them are so broad that they would not pass constitutional scrutiny or are so narrow that they have little effect.