From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
February 22, 2001
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Ellis, Staples and Talton Introduce "Crime Doesn't Pay" Legislation
Legislation Will Require Forfeiture of Profits Received From Sale of Crime Memorabilia

(Austin)//Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Senator Todd Staples (R-Palestine) have filed legislation in the Texas Senate that will force the forfeiture of funds received from the sale of crime memorabilia. Representative Robert Talton has introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives. Senate Bill 795 and House Bill 909 will seek to eliminate an existing loophole that allows convicted felons and third parties to make profits on the sale of certain memorabilia.

"No one should be able to use the harm done to someone to make a profit. Allowing someone to be rewarded for harmful acts sends the wrong message," said Senator Ellis. "Closing this existing backdoor for profits will send a clear signal that crime does not pay in Texas."

"This legislation is necessary to keep individuals from profiting from the horrific acts so often committed in our society. Victims and their families at least deserve the assurance that their nightmare will not be marketed to the highest bidder," said Senator Staples.

Existing Texas law requires the criminal to forfeit income derived from the sale of the criminal's story or re enactments related to the crime. However, current law does not prohibit criminals or others from utilizing fame associated with the offense for profit. This has resulted in criminals and third parties profiting from the sale of items such as autographs, letters, foot scrapings and artwork. Personal memorabilia items such as these have become frequent items for auction on the Internet. This has resulted in a larger market and increased profits from these sales.

"There is no set dollar amount that can adequately compensate someone that is forced to endure the constant pain that is often associated with these felony crimes. Any funds generated from the sale of these items should rightfully be forfeited," said Senator Ellis. "Allowing such people to profit would only add to the pain and suffering of victims and their families."

The proposed legislation is patterned after California's recently amended "Son of Sam" law. The bill would create an involuntary trust of the profits when a felon, a representative of the felon or a third party profiteer profits from the sale of any items that have increased value due to notoriety gained from committing a felony.

Although this legislation would apply to a profiteer of the felony, the bill would not apply to the media reporting a story or to publishers or producers making commercial products, such as trading cards, based on crimes.