Representative Bradley Byrne

Representing the 1st District of Alabama

Byrne, Shelby, Cotton Introduce Bipartisan ‘No Leniency for Terrorists Act’


May 23, 2019
Press Release

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) and Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) issued the following statements after introducing the No Leniency for Terrorists Act to amend federal law to prevent inmates convicted of crimes related to terrorism from being released early for good behavior.

“A convicted terrorist walking free before his sentence is completed should never happen again,” said Byrne.  “The Spann family asked me to address this injustice, and I want to make sure no other family has to go through what they have been through.  The No Leniency for Terrorists Act will prevent terrorists from taking advantage of our laws to avoid paying their debt to society.  We must ensure that terrorists will remain behind bars where they belong.”

“The early release of convicted terrorists sends the wrong message to those who have fought against terrorism and those who want to cause us harm,” said Shelby.  “This legislation will help us prioritize the safety and security of our nation above all else. Today’s early release of John Walker Lindh is disheartening and unacceptable, and I am proud we are taking this step to make terrorists ineligible for early release.”

“Our safety depends on keeping dangerous terrorists where they can’t harm Americans, but right now even unrepentant terrorists are eligible for early release from prison, sometimes for so-called ‘good behavior,’ said Cotton.  Supporting radical Islamist groups like ISIS is savage behavior, not good behavior. Our bill would make convicted terrorists ineligible for early release.”

John Walker Lindh, known as the “American Taliban”, was released today after serving only 17 of his 20-year sentence.  Lindh is an American citizen who pleaded guilty to supporting the Taliban and the militants who harbored al-Qaeda as it planned the attacks of September 11th.  While being held prisoner in Afghanistan in November 2001, Lindh took part in a violent uprising with his fellow Taliban prisoners, which resulted in the death of CIA officer and Alabama native Johnny Micheal Spann.

Under federal law, any federal prisoner can be released early for “exemplary compliance with institutional disciplinary regulations.”  There are no exceptions to this law, including those who have been convicted of terrorism charges, and there are 108 other terrorist offenders who are scheduled to complete their sentences and be released from U.S. federal prison over the next few years.  The No Leniency for Terrorists Act amends federal law to say those currently serving or those convicted of crimes related to terrorism in the future cannot be released early for good time served.

Byrne introduced this legislation in the House, H.R. 2957, with Congressman Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ).