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Senate passes judicial security bill

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] unanimously passed the Secure Access to Justice and Court Protection Act [HR 1751 summary] Wednesday, a bill that will increase security measures for judges [JURIST report] both in and out of courtrooms across the country. The bill was written in response to the increased number of courtroom shootings [JURIST report] and attacks on judges and their family members [JURIST report] in recent years. Under the new measure, persons convicted of murdering or kidnapping a US judge or law enforcement officer would be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years [CRS bill summary] and individuals who post information about judges, jurors, law enforcement officials, witnesses, or any of their family members would face federal charges and up to five years in prison. The legislation will authorize the US Department of Justice [official website] to provide financial assistance to state courts to increase security and gives an additional $20 million to the US Marshals Service [official website] tasked with protecting judges.

The bill was previously passed by the US House of Representatives [official website], but the Senate passed an amended version, which has now been forwarded to the House for approval. If the House does not pass the measure before this session of Congress adjourns in the next few days, it will need to be reintroduced when the House reconvenes in January. Reuters has more.

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