From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
April 11, 2001
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-8393

Senate Passes Ellis' "Crime Doesn't Pay" Legislation

Legislation will require forefeiture of profits received form sale of crime memorabilia

(Austin)//The Texas Senate today passed legislation by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) to keep criminals from profiting from their crimes.

Senate Bill 795 will force the forefeiture of funds received from the sale of crime memorabilia. The legislation closes an existing loophole that allows convicted felons and third parties to make profits on the sale of certain memorabilia.

"Allowing criminals to profit from their crime adds insult to injustice," said Ellis. "Under this bill, if you do the crime, you do the time -- and you don't see a dime."

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, creating a larger market and increased profits from these sales.

"I want to see the killers of James Byrd, Jr. in Huntsville, not on E-Bay," said Ellis. "It is a pretty sad commentary on our society that we even need to pass the law, but we do. This legislation will ensure criminals do not profit from their crimes and victims are not forgotten."

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 notoreity gained from commiting 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 the publishers or producers making commercial products, such as trading cards, based on crimes.