Sen. Jeff Sessions warns that Congress must be careful to ensure the sentencing reductions bills pending before Congress did not boost already rising crime rates and “sign death warrants” for innocent victims.
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA), which the Alabama Republican opposes, hews to Obama’s anti-law enforcement agenda and could cost an enormous human toll, Sessions said.
“Frankly, this is Obama’s policy. And the attorney general who he’s appointed, Loretta Lynch’s policy, and Eric Holder before her, to basically cut people’s sentences that have been lawfully imposed throughout this country,” Sessions said. “And it’s impacting public safety, in my opinion, and will continue to do so in the future.”
The senator also highlighted the many high-profile cop killings as the Obama administration makes police work more difficult.
“In the last year, we’ve lost 123 police officers, 35 in the first four months of 2016. Violent crimes and murders have increased across the country at alarming rates. Let me just share with my colleagues some of the things we’re seeing in violent crime. Recently, the Major Cities Chiefs of Police Association, a long-established group, called an emergency meeting to deal with the numbers I’m going to share with you today,” he said.
The numbers I will quote represent the percentage increase in total murders in the first quarter of this year, 2016, over the first quarter… of 2015. Las Vegas: 82 percent increase. Dallas, Texas: 73 percent increase. Chicago, 70 percent. Jacksonville, Florida: 67 percent. Newark, New Jersey: 60 percent increase. Miami Dade, 38 percent. Los Angeles, 33 percent. Atlanta, 20 percent, and Baltimore, 10 percent. These are substantial increases in crime.
According to FBI statistics released just this year, the number of violent crimes committed across the country was up in the first half of 2015 compared with the same period of 2014. The number of murders, rapes, assaults, and robberies were up all over the first six months of 2015. There was a 6.2 percent increase in murders. Violent crime across America rose 5.3 percent in large cities and overall, violent crime increase 1.7 percent — an increase that followed two consecutive years of decline.
My judgment is this is a long-term trend. I think we’re going to continue to see this increase. I wish it weren’t so, but I’m afraid it is,” Sessions said, adding that the Major Cities Chiefs Association gathered data to show that the number of homicides increased in over two dozen major U.S. cities in the first quarter of the year.
Sessions also quoted FBI Director James B. Comey’s concerns about the rising tide of crime: “‘I was very worried about it last fall, and I am in many ways more worried, because the numbers are not only going up, they’re continuing to go up in most of those cities faster than they were going up last year. Something is happening. I don’t know what the answer is, but holy cow, do we have a problem.'”
Comey also stated publicly he remembered the “crime wave of the 70’s and 60’s, and how enforcement brought it down dramatically,” Sessions added. “He said we don’t want to forget the lesson we learned previously.”
“Director Comey has also suggested a possible explanation for this spike in violent crime included gang and drug violence. He has also suggested that greater scrutiny of police as they do their duty had possibly changed the way officers and communities interact, something he calls the ‘viral video effect,’ which he believes leads to less aggressive policing,” he said.
“Less aggressive policing leads to more crime and more deaths.”
“When you have 20, 30, 40 percent increases in crime, you’re talking about doubling the crime rate, the murder rate in America in two or three years,” Sessions warned. “After we spent 20 years bringing it down by half. We’ve got to be sure what we’re doing here, colleagues, is smart, and we’re not signing death warrants for thousands of American innocent citizens.”