WASHINGTON — Sen. Harry Reid is preparing to introduce a bill to combat polygamy-related crimes while offering federal grants to social service programs that help former members of polygamous sects, a spokesman said this morning.
The "Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act of 2008" will be introduced on Wednesday, the day before the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on polygamy, spokesman Jon Summers said.
Reid and Gregory Brower, U.S. attorney for Nevada, are among the scheduled witnesses for Thursday’s hearing, along with attorneys general from Arizona and Texas, and Brett Tolman, the U.S. attorney from Utah.
Reid has compared polygamous groups such as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to organized crime syndicates, and has called on the federal government to address them as such.
The new legislation would codify Reid’s call for a federal task force to focus on abuse, extortion, embezzlement and other activities that have been associated with polygamous group.
It would offer grants to state and local law enforcement agencies, and also to groups that provide witness protection, housing, child care, mental health services and other care to former sect members.
Reid’s office did not indicate the cost of the bill.