Clinton Tells Story of Murdered Boy to Press Crime Bill’s Passage

<i> from Associated Press</i>

Invoking the “terrible story” of a 9-year-old boy murdered after expressing his fears of death, President Clinton on Saturday called on Congress to quickly pass a punishment-and-prevention crime bill.

In his weekly radio address, Clinton told the story of James Darby of New Orleans, who wrote the President with a request that he “stop the killing.”

The April 29 letter read:

“Dear Mr. Clinton:

“I want you to stop the killing in the city. I think somebody might kill me. I’m asking you nicely to stop it. I know you can do it.”


And Clinton added the sequel:

“Just nine days later, walking home from a Mother’s Day picnic, James Darby, age 9, was shot in the head and killed.”

Clinton said he had no way of guaranteeing that his Administration’s crime bill would have saved the boy.

“But I can tell you with absolutely no doubt that it will save other lives; and without it, we have no hope of giving a new sense of purpose and safety to our people.”

But Clinton said that after nearly six years of debating, “the American people have asked for action, but all they’ve gotten is gridlock.”

“That waiting has to end, and end now,” he said. “ . . . The random violence violates our values, our sense of family, our community, our whole hope for the future.”

Over the years both houses of Congress have passed comprehensive crime bills and both have done so this year. But the House and Senate have been unable to agree on final legislation, reconciling differences between the measures.


“In the past, Congress has been stymied by an either/or debate over the false choice between tougher punishment or smarter prevention,” the President said.

But he contended that most Americans want both, believing that criminals should be punished and that young people from poor communities should have “something to say yes to, to turn away from a life of crime.”

He said the latest version of the crime bill does both, providing strict punishment for violent offenders, earmarking $8 billion to build new jails, setting aside another $8 billion for prevention programs and recruiting 100,000 police officers over five years.