For years during the Obama administration, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, had issued public reports about problems it found in individual local departments. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ending that practice, calling it a “course correction.” The ACLU called the move “truly appalling.”
Will his minions in the U.S. Justice Department be willing to follow Jeff Sessions as he tries to lead American criminal justice back to the lock-’em-up days of the 1990s? Harvard’s Alex Whiting says, “I don’t know if he is really going to be able to persuade the department to follow his lead on this.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he didn’t want to make promises he couldn’t keep to police chiefs at a time of proposed cuts to the Justice Department budget. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson sought more federal prosecutions of gun crimes.
Proposed presidential budget cut disappoints officials in places like Miami-Dade County, which became the first jurisdiction to shed its “sanctuary city” status by complying with Trump’s immigration authorities.
Cleveland police have been under court oversight since 2015 after the U.S. Justice Department found patterns of excessive force and civil rights violations. A monitoring team is preparing policy manuals for two agencies that deal with allegations of police misconduct, but that process has taken longer than expected.
The Trump administration could radically reshape the U.S. Justice Department, where civil rights have been a focus under the Obama administration and the country’s first two black attorneys general. The department has investigated about two dozen police agencies for civil rights violations, reaching consent decrees with many of them.
Vanita Gupta of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division sees a “very clear link” between the criminalization of poverty and the growing distrust of police and the government. She says police targeting of the poor entraps African-Americans “in perpetual cycles of poverty, debt and incarceration.”
The initiative would help fill a troubling data void: Exactly how many people die during interactions with police? The Department of Justice count apparently would include not only shootings but such modes of death as drug overdoses and medical conditions.
The probe was launched after the death in April 2015 of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, from spinal injuries suffered in police custody. The feds concluded that black residents were targeted by police even though they were more likely to find illegal guns, illicit drugs and other contraband on white residents.
Federal funding for state juvenile justice programs, already waning in recent years, could take another big hit under a proposal this week from the House appropriations subcommittee that funds the Justice Department. On Wednesday, the panel proposed to slash federal spending from $266 million to $196 million annually for the year starting October 1. The subcommittee wants to zero out a major crime prevention funding program, as well as one called the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants, which support state efforts […]