Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of Congresswoman Mary Bono’s (R-CA-45) legislation, the Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act of 2007, H.R. 1759. Passed with bipartisan support, the MATCH Act would create a comprehensive nation-wide database to track convicted arsonists. A companion U.S. Senate bill to the MATCH Act, S. 2387, was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Bono was joined by Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA-29) in introducing this legislation in the House of Representatives on Mar. 29, 2007.

“Arson is a horrific crime that can devastate entire communities,” said Bono. “I am pleased that Congress has taken this step to giving law enforcement and fire officials a valuable tool to help prevent and penalize arson.”

Supported by local law enforcement and fire authorities, the MATCH Act would consolidate federal, state and local resources in combating arson by creating a national database to track convicted arsonists. On Nov. 2, 2007, Bono was joined by Cathedral City Fire Chief Bill Soqui in testifying on the MATCH Act before the Judiciary Committee.

Chief Soqui stated, “Congresswoman Bono’s leadership on the MATCH Act and its passage today is an important step in providing the public with a higher level of safety and security from those who would seek to deny us of our life and property. This bill will help law enforcement personnel track and apprehend criminal arsonists who would escape justice by crossing jurisdictional boundaries.”

“Firefighters risk their lives to keep our communities safe,” said Bono. “These brave men and women deserve our every effort to combat unnecessary catastrophe caused by an intentionally-set fire. I am grateful for the support and expertise of my colleagues in Congress and local firefighters in refining this important piece of legislation.”

Although arson is the leading cause of fires, less than 20 percent of arsonists are held accountable for their crime. Statistics compiled by the California Department of Corrections show that approximately 55 percent of arsonists will return to jail within two years of their parole.

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