The House Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly approved legislation which addresses the growing epidemic of violence against children, and enhances the safety of children from convicted sex offenders through coordinated State sex offender registration and notification programs. H.R. 3132, the Children's Safety Act.

A former felony court judge, Congressman Ted Poe, was instrumental in the crafting of the bill. Poe introduced his Child Predator Act of 2005 (H.R. 1355) earlier this year which was one of the bills considered the basis of the new legislation.

The primary duty of government is to protect its citizens. We as a people are not judged by the way we treat the rich, the famous, influential, powerful, but by the way we treat the weak, the innocent the children. As a criminal court judge, I have seen first-hand what can happen if we dont arm our communities against child predators who stalk our neighborhood playgrounds, our Cub Scout dens, our houses of worship and the internet to target our youngsters or lure our kids from their own bedrooms, said Representative Poe.

The Children's Safety Act will help address loopholes in current sex offender notification requirements so parents and the public can be armed with knowledge of any sex offenders lurking in their community, Rep. Poe added.

H.R. 3132 Highlights Include

• Improves Sex Offender Registration and Notification Program to ensure that sex offenders register, and keep current, where they reside, work and attend school

• Improves verification systems for sex offender information by requiring monthly verification, sex offender in-person verification every six months, and regular notarized verification mailings

• Requires States to have a uniform, public access sex offender registration website

• Creates Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website to search for sex offender information in each community

• Expands sex offenders to include juvenile sex offenders

• Requires States to notify each other when sex offender moves from one State to another

• Expands sex offenses covered by registration and notification requirements to include military, tribal, foreign, sex crimes, and increases duration of registration requirements to protect the public

• Expands community notification requirements to include active efforts to inform law enforcement agencies, schools, public housing, social service agencies and volunteer organizations in area where sex offender resides, works or attends school

• Creates new criminal penalty of mandatory minimum of 5 years to maximum of 20 years for sex offender who fails to comply with registration requirements

• Expands law enforcement use of DNA to solve sex crimes

• Prevents and deters violent crimes against children and sexual exploitation of children

• Protects foster children from sexual abuse and exploitation

• Increases criminal penalties against child sexual predators.

Chairman Sensenbrenner of the House Judiciary Committee commented, Those Members that have introduced provisions which have been incorporated into this legislation as well as child victim advocates deserve credit for helping push this needed legislation through the Committee. I look forward to having the full House consider this legislation in September.

As a judge, Representative Poe gained national attention for his creative sentencing of criminals. Called Poetic Justice by the media, Poe imposed creative and tough sentences on criminals. Poe ordered thieves to carry signs in front of stores they stole from, required a man who abused his wife to publicly apologize on the steps of Houston City Hall and ordered sex offenders to place warning signs on their home after they served jail time. In some homicide cases, Poe ordered the killer to securely place a photo of the victim on the wall of their prison cellgiving the offender a daily reminder of his crime.

Poe is widely known as a tough on crime judge and an expert on criminal and child safety issues. He serves on the boards of the National Children's Alliance in Washington, D.C. and the Children's Assessment Center of Houston. He has been awarded the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) outstanding advocate award and continues to fight for victims as the founder of the Victims Rights Caucus in the U.S. Congress.

Poe spent 22 years as a criminal court judge in Harris County (Houston), Texas--the third largest county jurisdiction in the country (behind Los Angeles County and Cook County, Illinois). He moved approximately 25,000 cases through the court system. Prior to being a judge, Poe was a chief felony prosecutor for eight years where he NEVER lost a jury trial.

###