« "Debacle: How the Supreme Court Has Mangled American Sentencing Law And How It Might Yet Be Mended" | Main | "U.S. Sentencing Commission Urged to Give Judges More Flexibility" »

September 10, 2009

A proposal from California to create a registry for arsonists

As detailed in this Los Angeles Times article, "Los Angeles County's largest fire in modern history led a pair of California lawmakers Wednesday to step up efforts to win congressional approval of legislation that would set up a national system for tracking convicted arsonists."  Here are more of the particulars:

"We as Californians understand the incalculable damage that can be caused by wildfire, which makes it all the more essential that we do everything possible to prevent unnecessary and senseless disaster at the hand of an arsonist," said Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Springs).

She was joined by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) in urging congressional leaders to allow a vote as soon as possible on their bill, the Managing Arson Through Criminal History, or MATCH, Act....

The arson legislation would require convicted arsonists -- many of whom are repeat offenders -- to report to authorities where they live, work and attend school. An arsonist would be required to register for five years for one offense, 10 years for two and for life for three or more offenses. The measure easily cleared the House in the last Congress, but never came to a vote in the Senate.

September 10, 2009 at 10:26 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A proposal from California to create a registry for arsonists:


I support the creation of a lawyer registry. All service and product providers then boycott. If one wants to move next door, the neighbors get together. They ask nicely that he move elsewhere. When he refuses, they do a little Chicago style rezoning, with the flick of a Bic.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 10, 2009 11:21:58 PM

This is a problematic idea because arson is one of the next big venues for innocence cases, as evidenced by the Cameron Todd Willingham case. The science changed in the early '90s and most fire investigators didn't begin using the new methods until many years later - some still resist. There are probably a greater percentage of innocents convicted of arson than for other crimes because 1) it's one of the only offenses where you can be convicted solely on expert testimony (which historically has often been false), and 2) it's one of the only crimes with a major economic interest (insurance companies) investigating and pushing independently for prosecution.

We've got just over 800 in TX prison right now convicted of arson, and the Innocence Project of Texas is currently in the middle of triaging those cases to look for possible clients, FWIW.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Sep 11, 2009 8:03:24 AM

I'm reminded of No. 3 in this post...


Posted by: anonymous | Sep 11, 2009 9:06:07 AM

SC. Why stop there? I think we need a registry for people who want to make registries. We can even brand a scarlet 'R' onto their foreheads and force them to wear an ankle monitor.

Posted by: Daniel | Sep 11, 2009 12:33:53 PM

California already has a registry for arsonists (and gang mambers and drugs abusers and a listing for child abusers) and its registry obviously did not prevent these fires.

Posted by: George | Sep 13, 2009 12:10:22 AM

I am in favor of it. The ridiculous sex offender registry regime won't be corrected until the terrified soccer moms can come to understand exactly how worthless the registries are. More registries for more criminal offenses will get us there faster than common sense, rational thought and reasoned argument. Let the law enforcement-incarceration industrial complex choke on its own desires.

Posted by: Mark#1 | Sep 15, 2009 2:29:33 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB