Federal authorities are starting to crack down on repeat violent offenders, a U.S. attorney told a Lawrence audience Monday.
Law enforcement authorities are using tough federal laws to put repeat Kansas offenders in prison for long periods of time, a federal prosecutor said Monday.
Under the new steps, two-time convicted violent offenders convicted of a third violent crime could find themselves sentenced in federal court -- with little chance of parole -- said Rich Hathaway, senior prosecutor for the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas and coordinator of a federal violent crime program.
"We're using statutes that have been around for a long time," he said. "It is a very, very effective tool for the appropriate candidates."
Hathaway spoke to the Lawrence Rotary Club at the Ramada Inn, 2222 W. Sixth.
He said the Capital Area Violent Crime Task Force formed early this year at the request of U.S. Atty. Gen. Janet Reno enables federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to better work together.
The task force, which covers Douglas County, is identifying repeat offenders and those involved in gangs so they could be charged in federal court, he said.
Federal laws on repeat offenders and organized crime have been on the books for many years, he said, but have not been readily applied.
Hathaway said that under the guidelines, authorities may seek federal punishment for people who commit repeat violent or gang-related crimes, even if the crimes normally would be considered state offenses.
Hathaway said some offenders who may only serve a few years prison time in the state system would serve 10 to 15 years under federal guidelines.
"We feel good about the group that has been formed," he said. "It's not going to be the answer to all problems, but ... we hope to be putting some of those (offenders) away."