Can Sessions Rightly Take Credit for Crime Drop?

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When reported violent crime in the U.S. rose in 2015 and 2016 after many years of decline, advocates of tougher policing and harsher sentencing warned that rising crime threatened to wipe out hard-won gains in safety. Criminal justice reformers said the rise may merely be a blip in a long-term downward trend. Now, the FBI says violent crime went down last year. In a speech Monday to police leaders, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “Those are the kind of results you get when you support law enforcement. Those are the kind of results we get when we work together, ” reports Reason. He added, “If you want more shootings and more death, then listen to the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, or antifa. If you want public safety, then listen to the police professionals who have been studying this for 35 years.”

Ames Grawert of the Brennan Center for Justice says it was “galling to see” Sessions cite national crime data to support his position on policing. “Ascribing credit of any crime increase or decrease to a single year and a half of federal policy is just beyond belief,” he says. The FBI data showed that murder decreased eight percent in cities with more than 1 million people. “One would take this as rebuke to the ‘American carnage’ theory that cities are out of control and only Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump can save them,” he says. A conservative criminal justice reformer said the new crime numbers reinforce the position that sentencing overhauls in red states have been largely successful in reducing crime. Mark Holden, the Koch network’s point man on criminal justice reform, said, “The reality is, data-driven prison and sentencing reforms, like those that have passed in places like Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina, reduce crime while giving people opportunities to transform their lives.”

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