[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[August 19, 1995]
[Pages 1260-1261]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
August 19, 1995

    Good morning. As I speak to you this morning, I can look out on 
Grand Teton National Park in the Rocky Mountains where my family and I 
are enjoying our summer vacation. We're looking forward to exploring 
both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks over the next several 
days. The beauty of these mountains is absolutely breathtaking, and 
their tranquillity is good for the soul.
    We could all use a lot more peace and quiet in our lives and in our 
society these days. So today I want to talk about our progress in 
reducing the violent crime that has shattered the lives of too many 
Americans for too long.
    Just a year ago this week, we ended 6 years of partisan stalemate in 
Washington by pushing a tough, sweeping crime bill through the Congress. 
Narrow interest groups on the left and the right didn't want the bill to 
pass, and you can be sure the criminals didn't, either. But every major 
law enforcement organization in America fought hard for the crime bill, 
and so did I, because it puts Government firmly on the side of the 
people who abide by the law, not the criminals who break it.
    Already the crime bill is making a difference. So far, we have 
awarded community policing grants to put 24,000 new police officers on 
the street. And we paid for it with the money saved by reducing the size 
of the Federal bureaucracy to its lowest level since John Kennedy was 
President. Already there are 150,000 fewer people working for the U.S. 
Government than there were the day I became President.
    The assault weapons ban and the Brady bill have stopped thousands of 
criminals from getting their hands on deadly weapons. We're giving 
States more help in building prisons to keep serious offenders behind 
bars longer. And we're giving communities funds for prevention, to give 
our young people something to say yes to as well as something to say no 
    Although it's far too early to declare victory, aggressive efforts 
like these and aggressive efforts by local police departments to expand 
community policing and crack down on drugs and gangs have helped to 
reduce the murder rate this year in Chicago, New York, New Orleans, and 
several other major cities. In fact, the crime rate is down overall in 
almost every area in America.
    The crime bill has also given prosecutors tough new penalties to use 
against violent criminals. The death penalty can now be imposed for 
nearly 60 Federal crimes, such as killing a law enforcement officer and 
using weapons of mass destruction resulting in death. Prosecutors are 
using this statute to seek the death penalty in indictments in the 
Oklahoma City bombing just now.
    And just this week, a violent career criminal in Iowa named Thomas 
Farmer was sentenced to life imprisonment because the crime bill says to 
repeat offenders, when you commit a third violent crime you'll be put 
away and put away for good, ``three strikes and you're out.''
    Until this week, Thomas Farmer had been a textbook case of what's 
wrong with our criminal justice system. He committed one violent crime 
after another and each time was paroled long before his sentence was up. 
In 1970, he murdered a doctor and drew a 20-year sentence, but he was 
paroled a few years later, even after he tried to escape. In 1979, he 
was sentenced to 25 years for armed robbery. Two years later, he 
murdered a fellow inmate and was sentenced to an additional 10 years, 
but the State paroled him yet again. And last fall he went on a crime 
spree, robbing two supermarkets and threaten-

[[Page 1261]]

ing to kill an employee who was taking too long to open the store safe.
    No wonder law-abiding Americans are fed up with a system that lets 
too many career criminals get out of jail free. If Thomas Farmer had 
been convicted in State court again, he might have been out on the 
street again in less than 3 years. But our ``three strikes and you're 
out'' law slammed that revolving door shut. Thomas Farmer has made a 
life of violent crime; now he will pay for the rest of his life behind 
bars where he belongs.
    Thomas Farmer was the very first career criminal we put away under 
the ``three strikes and you're out.'' But he will not be the last. 
Federal prosecutors already have another 16 ``three strikes'' cases 
pending around the country, including three convictions that are 
awaiting sentencing now.
    One year ago, we overcame deep partisan differences and bitter 
partisan opposition to make ``three strikes and you're out'' the law of 
the land. Now it's time for Members of Congress to do that again, to put 
aside demands for ideological purity and give the American people the 
reforms they want, the reforms they need, the reforms they need in 
welfare, the reforms they need in other areas of our Government. And 
these reforms clearly include the antiterrorism legislation I sent to 
Congress after the Oklahoma City bombing.
    It's hard to imagine what more must happen to convince Congress to 
pass that bill. Yet partisan politics has blocked it in the House of 
Representatives. I call on the House to pass that antiterrorism bill 
when they return so we can continue to make all Americans safer.
    Because of the crime bill passed a year ago, the people of Iowa are 
safer today, and a career criminal who haunted them for decades is off 
the streets for good. I'll keep doing everything in my power to ensure 
that those who commit crimes are caught, those who are caught are 
convicted, those who are convicted are punished, and those who have made 
a life of crime spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
    The American people deserve a justice system that reflects our 
values and a Government that fulfills its first responsibility, to keep 
Americans safe.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 7:21 p.m. on August 18 at the 
Rockefeller residence in Jackson Hole, WY, for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. 
on August 19.