There is one summary for H.R.5134. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (09/29/1994)


Title I: Eliminating Excessive and Redundant Appeals

Title II: Reform of Exclusionary Rule

Title III: Prisons

Title IV: Enhanced Gun Penalties

Title V: Death Penalty

Title VI: Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act

Title VII: Conditions of Confinement

Victims' Rights Act of 1994 - Title I: Eliminating Excessive and Redundant Appeals - Amends the Federal judicial code to establish a one-year statute of limitations for habeas corpus actions brought by State prisoners. Vests authority to issue certificates for probable cause for appeal of habeas corpus orders exclusively in the courts of appeals. Permits denial on the merits of habeas corpus writs notwithstanding the failure to exhaust State remedies. Establishes a two-year statute of limitations for Federal prisoners filing for collateral relief.

(Sec. 106) Sets forth special habeas corpus procedures for cases brought by prisoners in State custody who are subject to a capital sentence, provided that: (1) a State establishes by rule of its court of last resort or by statute a mechanism for the appointment, compensation, and payment of reasonable litigation expenses of competent counsel in State post-conviction proceedings brought by indigent prisoners whose capital convictions and sentences have been upheld on direct appeal to such court or have otherwise become final; and (2) such rule or statute provides standards of competency for the appointment of counsel.

Provides for a mandatory stay of execution during the post-conviction review initiated pursuant to this title. Details conditions which will cause such stay to expire. Prohibits a Federal court from entering a stay of execution or granting relief in a capital case unless specified conditions are met.

Sets forth time limits for determining petitions. Authorizes the State or Government to enforce such time limits by applying to the court of appeals or the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus.

Title II: Reform of Exclusionary Rule - Amends the Federal criminal code to prohibit the exclusion of evidence obtained as a result of a search or seizure on the grounds that the search or seizure was in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution if the search or seizure was carried out in circumstances justifying an objectively reasonable belief that it was in conformity with such amendment. Makes the fact that evidence was obtained pursuant to and within the scope of a warrant prima facie evidence of the existence of such circumstances.

Prohibits the exclusion of evidence on the ground that it was obtained in violation of a statute, administrative rule or regulation, or rule of procedure unless expressly authorized by statute or rule prescribed by the Supreme Court pursuant to statutory authority.

Title III: Prisons - Requires the Attorney General to implement and enforce regulations which: (1) mandate prison work for all able-bodied inmates in Federal penal and correctional institutions; and (2) prohibit the Government provision in inmates' cells of television, radio, telephone, stereo, or similar amenities.

(Sec. 302) Directs the Bureau of Prisons to take care that: (1) prisoners under its jurisdiction do not engage in any activities designed to increase both their physical strength and their fighting ability; and (2) all equipment designed for this purpose be removed from Federal correctional facilities.

Title IV: Enhanced Gun Penalties - Enhances penalties for persons convicted of using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to the commission of a felony.

Title V: Death Penalty - Amends the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to revise procedures involving jury findings in capital cases. Directs the jury or, if there is no jury, the court to: (1) consider whether aggravating factors outweigh any mitigating factors; (2) recommend a sentence of death if it unanimously finds at least one aggravating factor and no mitigating factor or if it finds one or more aggravating factors which outweigh any mitigating factors; and (3) not recommend such sentence in any other case.

Requires the jury to be instructed that: (1) it must avoid any influence of sympathy, sentiment, passion, prejudice, or other arbitrary factors in its decision and should make such a recommendation as the information warrants; and (2) its recommendation concerning a sentence of death is to be based on the aggravating and mitigating factors found, but that the final decision concerning the balance of aggravating and mitigating factors is a matter for the jury's judgment.

Title VI: Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act - Amends the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act to prohibit any civil action for deprivation of rights from being brought by an adult convicted of a crime confined in any correctional facility until available plain, speedy, and effective administrative remedies are exhausted. Specifies that such exhaustion of administrative remedies may not be required unless the Attorney General has certified or the court has determined that such remedies are in substantial compliance with specified minimum acceptable standards (as under current law) or are otherwise fair and effective.

(Sec. 602) Requires the court to dismiss any such action if satisfied that the action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted or is frivolous or malicious.

(Sec. 603) Repeals a provision requiring that the minimum standards provide for an advisory role for employees and inmates in the formulation, implementation, and operation of the system.

(Sec. 604) Requires the Attorney General to develop a procedure for the prompt review and certification of systems for the resolution of grievances of adults confined in any correctional or pretrial detention facility if such systems are in substantial compliance with the minimum standards (current law) or are otherwise fair and effective. Authorizes the Attorney General to suspend or withdraw certification at any time he has reasonable cause to believe that such procedure is no longer in substantial compliance or is no longer fair and effective.

(Sec. 605) Amends the Federal judicial code to authorize the court to request an attorney to represent a person financially unable to employ counsel (current law) at any time. Requires (current law authorizes) the court to dismiss the case if the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if satisfied that the action is frivolous or malicious.

Requires: (1) a prisoner in a correctional institution who files an affidavit of indigency to include a statement of all assets such prisoner possesses; and (2) the court to make inquiry of the institution for information relating to the extent of the prisoner's assets and to require full or partial payment of filing fees according to the prisoner's ability to pay.

Title VII: Conditions of Confinement - Amends the Federal judicial code to deny the district court in any action challenging the constitutionality of conditions of confinement in any correctional institution housing persons accused or convicted of a crime or juveniles adjudicated delinquent, jurisdiction to issue or enforce any order that: (1) imposes a ceiling on the population of any institution or requires any adjustment of the release dates of inmates; or (2) prohibits the use of tents or prefabricated structures for housing inmates.