In January 1996 the NAACP asked the Justice Department to investigate a series of black church fires in the Southeast after receiving reports from NAACP branches in Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The Justice Department had already begun a criminal civil rights investigation. Criticism about the conduct of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents in the field prompted a congressional hearing. NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume testified before the House Judiciary Committee on May 21. He recommended that the Justice Department assume responsibility for coordinating an interagency task force and that federal agents revise interview techniques to avoid intimidation in order to increase the effectiveness of the investigation. After the hearing, Congress passed the Church Arson Prevention Act, which increased the maximum penalty for church arson to twenty years.