Gerald Ford on Crime

President of the U.S., 1974-1977; Republican Rep. (MI)


Survived 1975 assassination attempt by Squeaky Fromme

On Sep. 5, 1975, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, aged 26, drew a Colt .45 automatic pistol and squeezed the trigger as Pres. Ford shook hands with a smiling crowd in Sacramento, California. Bystanders said Ford was shaking hands with everyone and smiling when suddenly he turned ashen and froze as he saw a gun being raised only a few feet away. "I saw a hand coming up behind several others in the front row, and obviously there was a pistol in that hand," Ford said later.

As Fromme pulled the trigger, a Secre Service agent jumped in front of Ford to shield him. The agent then grabbed the gun and wrestled her to the ground. Fortunately, there was no bullet in the firing chamber. There were four in the gun's magazine.

Fromme was a disciple of Charles Manson, who had been convicted of the ritualistic murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others. Two months before the assassination attempt, Fromme had issued a statement saying she had received letters from Manson blaming Nixon for his imprisonment.

Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by Ron Kessler, p. 49-50 , Jun 29, 2009

Survived 1975 assassination attempt by Sara Jane Moore

In late Sep., 1975, Ford was leaving a hotel in San Francisco when Sara Jane Moore, a 45-year-old political activist, fired a .38 revolver at him from 40 feet away. At the report of the shot, Ford looked stunned. Color drained from his face, and his knee appeared to buckle. The bullet flew several feet over the president's head. It ricocheted off the side of the hotel & slightly wounded a cab driver in the crowd.

Secret Service agents quickly pushed Moore to the sidewalk and arrested her. As bystanders screamed, the agents pushed the uninjured Ford into his limousine and onto the floor, covering his body with theirs.

Moore is the only presidential assailant who was listed as a possible threat in the Secret Service data bank before the assassination attempt. Two days before the attempt, police interviewed her & confiscated her gun. Secret Service agents concluded she did not pose a threat. evaluating intentions is an inexact science. The next morning, she purchased another weapon.

Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by Ron Kessler, p. 50-51 , Jun 29, 2009

To be effective, punishment must be swift and certain

Protecting the life and property of the citizen at home is primarily the job of local and State law enforcement authorities. Americans have always found the very thought of a Federal police force repugnant, and so do I. But there are proper ways in which we can help to insure domestic tranquility.

My recommendations on how to control violent crime [have a] strong emphasis on protecting the innocent victims of crime. To keep a convicted criminal from committing more crimes, we must put him in prison so he cannot harm more law-abiding citizens. To be effective, this punishment must be swift and it must be certain.

Too often, criminals are not sent to prison after conviction but are allowed to return to the streets. My new budget proposes the construction of four new Federal facilities. To speed Federal justice, I propose an increase in the US attorneys prosecuting Federal crimes and the reinforcement of the number of US marshals.

Source: Pres. Ford's 1976 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 19, 1976

More mandatory sentencing; more focus on victims

Too many Americans had forgotten that the primary purpose of imprisonment was not to rehabilitate the convicted criminal so that he could return to society, but to punish him and keep him off the streets. The certainty of having to spend a specified time behind bars after being convicted of a serious offense, was more important as a deterrent that almost anything else.

I do not seek vindictive punishment of the criminal but protection of the innocent victim. The victims are my primary concern. I listed my specific proposals with this new emphasis. People convicted of violent crimes should have to go to jail. I urged the imposition of mandatory sentences for them and for "career "criminals as well. Second, I suggested less delay in bringing those arrested to trial, less plea bargaining and more courtroom determination of guilt or innocence.

[We should] amend the Federal code to make more sentences mandatory. We could also supply funds to add judges, prosecutors and public defenders.

Source: A Time To Heal, by Gerald Ford, p.269-271 , Apr 25, 1975

Death sentence only after separate sentencing hearing

Rep. Ford sponsored H.R.6028: A bill to establish rational criteria for the mandatory imposition of the sentence of death:
Source: Bill sponsorship archives from the Library of Congress , Mar 22, 1973

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Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
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Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022