James Lynch, President Obama’s choice to lead the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, told the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday that, if confirmed, he would ensure that the statistical agency was independent and free from political manipulation, reports MainJustice.com. BJS came under scrutiny in 2005 when then-director Lawrence Greenfeld was allegedly demoted after he complained about a decision by the main Justice Department to play down statistics on the hostile police handling of black and Hispanic drivers.
Lynch sat on a National Research Council panel that recommended BJS become independent of the Office of Justice Programs in the DOJ hierarchy to avoid political pressures. Ranking Judiciary Committee member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said putting BJS directly under the Attorney General would not help keep politics out of the bureau. “The more you get prominent, the more you get politicized,” Sessions said. Lynch said he would make certain the bureau can be trusted. “The way you do that is the same way you always do that: You provide accurate, timely and useful data,” he said.