U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Andy Kahan

2006 Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards

Andy Kahan | Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award
Mayor's Crime Victims Office
Houston, Texas

Andy Kahan went to work in 1992 as the Director of the Mayor's Crime Victims' Office in Houston, Texas. Kahan works closely with local crime and victims' rights organizations to facilitate the pooling of resources and the exchange of information. In addition, the office monitors parole and crime statistics, represents victims before the parole board, puts crime victims in touch with local crime victims' support and advocacy groups, and represents the mayor before various interagency crime groups. 

Since the inception of the Mayor's Crime Victims' Office, it has had great success working with the legislature in support of crime victims. Policy changes include abolishing the mandatory release of convicted felons; promoting gun safety by making adults criminally responsible for failure to properly store firearms; enacting a policy to allow victims' families to witness executions; mandating that the parole board meet with either the victims or family members before a vote takes place; and notifying victims of those found not guilty by reason of insanity of court hearings, furloughs, and discharges. 

In the fall of 1999, Kahan began a national campaign to stop the Nation's largest Internet auction site (E-Bay) from selling "murderabilia," gruesome personal mementos of violent criminals. Items being sold for profit included autographs, letters, artwork, and a variety of personalized products that commemorated their crimes. 

As a result of Kahan's work, several states, including Texas, California, New Jersey, and Michigan passed legislation prohibiting "Notoriety for Profit" by criminals. Several other states are also considering passing similar legislation. The law spearheaded by Kahan allows states to seize any and all profits from the sale of goods once owned or made by convicted criminals, as long as it can be shown that the item's value has been enhanced by the owner's connection to the crime. 

Prior to Kahan's campaign to stop this practice, neither federal nor state law prohibited it. In a decade, the policy and law changes spearheaded by Kahan have had an enormous impact on the safety of the citizens of the greater Houston area. In addition, Kahan's tireless efforts to change policy benefit, protect, and honor crime victims and survivors nationwide. 

Kahan was nominated by Diana Bratton, Victim Assistance Coordinator, Greeley Police Department, Greeley, Colorado.