Sessions Calls Crime Rise “A Dangerous Permanent Trend”

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Minutes after he was sworn in this week as Attorney General, Jeff Sessions said, “We have a crime problem. I wish the rise that we’re seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip. My best judgment, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years, is that this is a dangerous permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk. Criminologists said he had no evidence to support this contention, The Guardian reports. “Jeff Sessions is the first person who suggested this is a permanent trend,” said Jerry Ratcliffe, a member of the Justice Department’s Science Advisory Board and the director of Temple University’s Center for Security and Crime Science. “I don’t think anyone from a data perspective would agree with it.”

 

Sessions’s judgment “is not consistent with the professional judgment of, to my knowledge, anyone else in criminal justice right now,” said Thomas Abt of Harvard, an expert on gun, gang and youth violence policy who worked in the Obama Justice Department. The overall violent crime rate remains near historic lows. The U.S. did see a sharp 10.8% uptick in murders in 2015, the largest single-year increase in decades. Early data from 2016 suggests that nationwide murder numbers may have risen again last year. Fact-checkers were quick to note that murder and violent crime rates remain close to historic lows, and that the steep uptick in 2015 has not come anywhere close to erasing the two decades of gains in safety and decreases in violence. “The long-term crime decline is far from over,” said Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri St. Louis. “We’re still running at homicides rates in the United States that are about one half what they were in the early 90s.”

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