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Tag: Justice Department

AG Jeff Sessions Warns against ‘Harmful Federal Intrusion’ of Local Police

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Attorney General Jeff Sessions
USA Today

Violent crime is surging in American cities. To combat this wave of violence and protect our communities, we need proactive policing. Yet in some cities, such policing is diminishing — with predictably dire results.

In Chicago, arrests have fallen 36% since 2014 to the lowest level in at least 16 years. Last year, they fell in every major crime category, and they fell in every single district in the city. To put that in perspective, out of more than 500 non-fatal shootings in early 2016, only seven resulted in any sort of arrest. That’s 1%. Not surprisingly, as arrest rates plummeted in those years, the murder rate nearly doubled. Meanwhile in Baltimore, while arrests have fallen 45% in the past two years, homicides have risen 78%, and shootings have more than doubled.

Yet amid this plague of violence, too much focus has been placed on a small number of police who are bad actors rather than on criminals. And too many people believe the solution is to impose consent decrees that discourage the proactive policing that keeps our cities safe.

The Department of Justice agrees with the need to rebuild public confidence in law enforcement through common-sense reforms, such as de-escalation training, and we will punish any police conduct that violates civil rights. But such reforms must promote public safety and avoid harmful federal intrusion in the daily work of local police.

To read more click here.

AG Sessions Pledges ‘New Era’ of Stiffer Penalties for Some Illegal Immigrants

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged to crackdown on illegal immigration by ushering in “a new era” of stiffer criminal charges. 

Sessions also said he plans to end the Obama-era “catch and release” practices as the Justice Department is given a more active role in the fight against illegal immigration, the Washington Times reports. 

Sessions wants to file felony charges against repeat offenders and others who have criminal convictions on their records.

“For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned: This is a new era. This is the Trump era,” Mr. Sessions said during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona. “The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our laws, and the catch and release policies of the past are over.”

Boulder Editorial: Justice Department Undermines Police Reforms in Numerous Cities

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Editorial Board
Boulder Daily Camera

More than a dozen cities, including Ferguson, Mo., have spent arduous months hammering out consent decrees with the U.S. Justice Department to institute much-needed police and judicial reforms aimed in large part at reducing enforcement disparities that unfairly target poor and minority communities. The cooperation of local police departments was key in reaching these agreements, which makes them partners in fixing what’s wrong.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions now proposes meddling with a cooperative formula that’s working. Last week, he ordered a review of Justice Department consent decrees and other interventions, threatening to reverse progress designed to halt the unequal application of justice around the country.

Sessions’ unfortunate decision could undermine a lot of hard work in the 25 cities whose police departments — including Ferguson’s — worked with the Obama administration’s Justice Department. In 14 cases, consent decrees were reached with federal judges serving as monitors.

These agreements are not anti-police; they are pro-Constitution. We suspect that Sessions is motivated in no small part by President Donald Trump’s drive to halt the questioning of police actions such as those in which officers are captured on video shooting or fatally restraining unarmed civilians. The White House has posted a pledge that this “will be a law and order administration,” committed to ending the “dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America.”

 To read more click here. 

Justice Department May Reopen Investigation into 1955 Killing of Emmett Till

Emmett Till

Emmett Till

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is considering reopening its investigation into the brutal 1955 killing of Emmett Till.

The infamous case took a new turn recently when a witness, Carolyn Bryant Donham, admitted she lied during the murder trial when she testified that the black teenager touched her.

Till’s killers were not convicted.

“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Donham was quoted as saying in a new book, “The Blood of Emmett Till.”

“The Department is currently assessing whether the newly revealed statement could warrant additional investigation,” Acting Assistant Attorney General T.E. Wheeler II wrote U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson in a letter, the Clarion-Ledger reports. 

But Wheeler warned that historic cases such as this are difficult to prosecute.

“We caution, however, that even with our best efforts, investigations into historic cases are exceptionally difficult, and there may be insurmountable legal and evidentiary barriers to bringing federal charges against any remaining living persons,” he wrote.

Till was only 14 when two brothers abducted him on false claims that he wolf-whistled at Donham. Till was brutally beaten and shot in the head.

His death was a major impetus for the civil rights movement.

Other Stories of Interest

Jones: Jeff Sessions Shows No Respect for Black Lives After Consent Decree Review

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.

Solomon Jones
Philadelphia Inquirer

After the recent actions of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, even the few black voters who supported Donald Trump despite his bigoted campaign rhetoric must now admit the obvious. A vote for Trump was a vote for racist policies.

Sessions’ decision to order a broad review of federal agreements with dozens of law-enforcement agencies is nothing short of an attack on black and brown people. After all, those agreements were necessitated by systemic police abuses targeting minority communities. Attempting to pull out of those agreements – most of which have already been approved in federal court – delivers an indisputable message: Black lives don’t matter to the Trump administration.

And make no mistake. This is about black lives.

That truth is not lost on activists who’ve long fought systemic police abuses targeting blacks. Few of them are surprised that Sessions – who once was denied a federal judgeship based largely on allegations of racism – is the man leading the charge.

“Jeff Sessions’ entire career in the justice system is rooted in racism and anti-blackness,” Asa Khalif, who leads Pennsylvania Black Lives Matter, told me. “If there was ever a time to rally and stand together as black people, it’s now.”

Given that Trump thanked black people for not voting after his surprising Electoral College victory, I think Khalif is right. We must stand together, because the examination of police departments across the country were spurred by high-profile police killings of unarmed African Americans. The same black people featured prominently in Justice Department reports that meticulously documented patterns of systemic police abuse.

The Obama administration compiled one such report following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died after suffering a spinal injury in a police van when officers failed to properly restrain him with seat belts. Based on interviews, documents and an extensive review of six years of data, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division concluded that the Baltimore Police Department engaged in an ongoing pattern of discrimination against African Americans.

The report minced no words in laying out the truth.

“BPD’s targeted policing of certain Baltimore neighborhoods with minimal oversight or accountability disproportionately harms African-American residents,” the report said. “Racially disparate impact is present at every stage of BPD’s enforcement actions, from the initial decision to stop individuals on Baltimore streets to searches, arrests and uses of force. These racial disparities, along with evidence suggesting intentional discrimination, erode the community trust that is critical to effective policing.”

To read more click here. 

Justice Department May Weaken Police Reform Agreements

police lightsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department plans to review reform agreements with troubled police forces nationwide to determine if the consent decrees will sacrifice the Trump administration’s goals of establishing law and order.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the agreements between local police forces and the DOJ’s civil rights division will be reviewed by his top two deputies, the Washington Post reports. 

“The Attorney General and the new leadership in the Department are actively developing strategies to support the thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country that seek to prevent crime and protect the public,” Justice officials said in a memo. “The Department is working to ensure that those initiatives effectively dovetail with robust enforcement of federal laws designed to preserve and protect civil rights.”

The move comes after the Justice Department asked a federal judge to postpone a hearing on police reform agreements with the Baltimore Police Department for up to 90 days.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh opposed the extension request, saying the consent decree was a helpful tool in reforming the police department, Reuters reports. 

“Much has been done to begin the process of building faith between the police department and the community it seeks to serve. Any interruption in moving forward may have the effect of eroding the trust that we are working hard to establish,” she said. 

The agreement was reached in January following the death two years previously of Freddie Gray, a black man killed while in police custody.

The Justice Department wants to determine whether the consent decree inhibits the enforcement of law and order.

“The Department has determined that permitting it more time to examine the consent decree proposed in this case in light of these initiatives will help ensure that the best result is achieved for the people of the City,” they wrote, asking for a hearing set for Thursday to be postponed until June.

Senate Committee Approves Rosenstein As Deputy Attorney General

Rod Rosenstein, candidate for deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein, candidate for deputy attorney general.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The nomination of Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general was approved Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, setting the stage for a full Senate vote.

Senators voted 19-1 in favor of Rosenstein. If the full Senate approves the nomination, Rosenstein will take the No. 2 spot at the Justice Department, the Hill reports. 

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, Rosenstein would be in control of the high-profile probe.

“He is on the American side, not on the Russian side, and I trust that he’ll hold true to that statement,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said.

Justice Department Threatens to Strip Federal Money from Sanctuary Cities

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department warned sanctuary cities and counties this week that they will not receive federal grants if the continue to fail to work with the crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

At a White House briefing, Attorney General Jeff sessions said the municipalities that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities stand to lose a lot of federal funding, Time reports. 

“We intend to use all the lawful authority we have to make sure our state and local officials who are so important to law enforcement are in sync with the federal government,” Sessions said.

Time wrote:

There is a question about whether the federal government could withhold a wide array of federal funds from cities over their sanctuary status and still survive a legal challenge. Federalism experts say that case law has built up doctrines that help states maintain their resistance. One is the anti-commandeering principle, which suggests that the federal government cannot force state officials to enforce federal law. Other case law suggests that whatever funds the government is cutting need to be in some way related to the policy issue at stake — so the federal government would be on shaky ground withholding transportation funds in an attempt to force states to comply on an education issue, for example.

Other Stories of Interest