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Statement by the President Upon Signing Bills To Aid in the Crusade Against Crime.

November 08, 1966

I TODAY have signed three bills which will help us carry on our crusade against crime.

These measures flow from the recommendations I made in my message to Congress on crime earlier this year. Separately, each bill is important. Together they form a vital part of our national effort to bring new dimensions to law enforcement and the administration of justice.

The first is the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act--a pioneering measure. It recognizes that treating addicts as criminals neither curtails addiction nor prevents crime.

Under this law, many addicts now can be committed for treatment instead of being committed to prison.

This new law will help reclaim lives. It will help end the chain reaction of misery, where addicts turn to crime to support their addiction.

The need is great. There are more than 50,000 narcotics addicts in our country. Many of them can respond to treatment and become useful and productive citizens. At the same time, it is important to recognize that the law retains full criminal sanctions against those ruthless men who sell despair-the narcotics peddlers.

The second measure creates a national commission to recommend complete revisions of the Federal criminal statutes. Some of our criminal laws are obsolete. Others do not make the penalty fit the crime. All must be reviewed in light of the experience and the requirements of our complex and growing society.

This bill establishes a 12-member bipartisan commission which will include Members of each House of the Congress, Federal judges, and three appointees whom I will name shortly.

The task of this commission is to make a detailed and penetrating study of the Federal statutes and case law and recommend to the Congress the legislation necessary to improve the Federal system of criminal justice. Our goal is a modern, rational, criminal code that is fully consistent with our dedication to justice and the protection of our citizens. The commission will take us a long step closer to that goal.

The Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 1965 has stirred the imagination of everyone concerned with police work--from the academic criminologist to the prosecuting attorney and the policeman on the beat. It has a simple and exciting premise: the Federal Government would award grants to local agencies and nonprofit groups for a variety of experimental approaches to all phases of the law enforcement field.

The response to the 1965 act has been overwhelming.

Now, in this third measure, the Congress has enlarged the promising start of the 1965 act by extending the program to 1970. Hundreds of imaginative proposals for new projects are presently under consideration. The program recognizes that the work of law enforcement is and must be primarily a local responsibility. But it also demonstrates that close partnership between the Federal Government and State and local governments in this area can bring substantial rewards.

The three measures I signed today stem from our deep commitment to justice and the rules of law. They will help us pursue our attack against crime with resolution and effective action.

Note: As enacted, the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act of 1966 (H.R. 9167) is Public Law 89-793 (80 Stat. 1438); the act to establish a National Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws (H.R. 15766) is Public Law 89-801 (80 Stat. 1516); and the act to amend the Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 1965 (H.R. 13551) is Public Law 89-798 (80 Stat. 1506).

For the President's message to Congress on crime and law enforcement, see Item 116. The statement was released at San Antonio, Texas.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bills To Aid in the Crusade Against Crime. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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