27 Crime ‘Hotbeds’ Get More Federal Prosecutors

Attorney General Jeff Sessions assigns more federal prosecutors to high-crime areas like Baltimore and Chicago. They will handle gang cases and others that affect the local violent crime total.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is assigning three more prosecutors to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland, part of a broader reallocation the Justice Department announced Friday to confront violent crime, the Baltimore Sun reports. The announcement comes after Sessions held a press conference in Baltimore to discuss the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration and international gangs. During the visit, Sessions mentioned the city’s homicides, which have reached over 300 for the third straight year.

Along with the northern district of Illinois, which includes Chicago, Maryland’s allocation of three new assistant U.S. attorneys represents the largest increase in the U.S. Sessions said 40 prosecutors would be deployed to 27 crime “hotbeds” nationwide, including in Islip, N.Y.; Detroit and Oakland. “These additional assistant United States Attorneys can make an immediate impact. I know, I have seen it firsthand,” said Sessions, who himself is a former U.S. Attorney in Alabama. “A committed [federal prosecutor] can supervise multiple investigations, which in turn can apprehend and dismantle multiple criminal organizations simultaneously,” he said. “That means fewer violent criminals on the streets and more concentration of resources on the bad actors who are left. That is how you reduce crime.” The Maryland district had 87 assistant U.S. attorneys before Friday’s announcement, according to the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys.

from https://thecrimereport.org

27 Crime ‘Hotbeds’ Get More Federal Prosecutors

Attorney General Jeff Sessions assigns more federal prosecutors to high-crime areas like Baltimore and Chicago. They will handle gang cases and others that affect the local violent crime total.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is assigning three more prosecutors to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland, part of a broader reallocation the Justice Department announced Friday to confront violent crime, the Baltimore Sun reports. The announcement comes  after Sessions held a press conference in Baltimore to discuss the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration and international gangs. During the visit, Sessions mentioned the city’s homicides, which have reached over 300 for the third straight year.

Along with the northern district of Illinois, which includes Chicago, Maryland’s allocation of three new assistant U.S. attorneys represents the largest increase in the U.S. Sessions said 40 prosecutors would be deployed to 27 crime “hotbeds” nationwide, including in Islip, N.Y.; Detroit and Oakland. “These additional assistant United States Attorneys can make an immediate impact. I know, I have seen it firsthand,” said Sessions, who himself is a former U.S. Attorney in Alabama.  “A committed [federal prosecutor] can supervise multiple investigations, which in turn can apprehend and dismantle multiple criminal organizations simultaneously,” he said. “That means fewer violent criminals on the streets and more concentration of resources on the bad actors who are left. That is how you reduce crime.” The Maryland district had 87 assistant U.S. attorneys before Friday’s announcement, according to the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump ‘Embellishes the Truth’ in Speech to FBI

The New York Times says President Trump made misleading statements about Chicago crime, police military equipment and immigration enforcement in a speech at the FBI training academy.

President Trump made several misleading or incorrect statements in a speech Friday at the FBI’s training academy in Virginia, the New York Times reports. Most types of violent crime have declined in Chicago since last year, but Trump cited “the steepest two-year consecutive increase in murders in nearly half a century” in 2015 and 2016 and asked, “What the hell is going on in Chicago?” noting that, “For the second year in a row, a person was shot in Chicago every three hours.” That statement is correct, but there were 737 more shootings last year than in 2017.

Trump said he allows “our local police to access surplus military equipment — something the previous administration for some reason refused to do. Explain that one.””He exaggerated the restrictions ordered by President Obama. When protests of the 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., highlighted the militarization of local law enforcement, Obama prohibited police departments from obtaining track armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft grenade launchers and bayonets, it still allowed police to get other kinds of equipment, including unmanned aircraft, wheeled armored vehicles, specialized firearms, explosives and pyrotechnics, and riot gear. Trump claimed that countries give “us their worst people” through the diversity visa lottery, which provides an immigration pathway to the U.S. for some people. Trump’s claim that other countries use the program to expel undesirable members from their societies is unfounded and implausible. On another issue, sanctuary cities limit their cooperation with federal immigration officials but they do not stop law enforcement from pursuing criminals, as Trump suggested when he said, “Our cities should not be sanctuaries for criminals.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump ‘Embellishes the Truth’ in Speech to FBI

The New York Times says President Trump made misleading statements about Chicago crime, police military equipment and immigration enforcement in a speech at the FBI training academy.

President Trump made several misleading or incorrect statements in a speech Friday at the FBI’s training academy in Virginia, the New York Times reports. Most types of violent crime have declined in Chicago since last year, but Trump cited “the steepest two-year consecutive increase in murders in nearly half a century” in 2015 and 2016 and asked, “What the hell is going on in Chicago?” noting that, “For the second year in a row, a person was shot in Chicago every three hours.” That statement is correct, but there were 737 more shootings last year than in 2017.

Trump said he allows “our local police to access surplus military equipment — something the previous administration for some reason refused to do. Explain that one.””He exaggerated the restrictions ordered by President Obama. When protests of the 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., highlighted the militarization of local law enforcement, Obama prohibited police departments from obtaining track armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft grenade launchers and bayonets, it still allowed police to get other kinds of equipment, including unmanned aircraft, wheeled armored vehicles, specialized firearms, explosives and pyrotechnics, and riot gear. Trump claimed that countries give “us their worst people” through the diversity visa lottery, which provides an immigration pathway to the U.S. for some people. Trump’s claim that other countries use the program to expel undesirable members from their societies is unfounded and implausible. On another issue, sanctuary cities limit their cooperation with federal immigration officials but they do not stop law enforcement from pursuing criminals, as Trump suggested when he said, “Our cities should not be sanctuaries for criminals.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

New Spending Law Could Empower Sessions on Pot

A provision of the current spending law that protects state medical marijuana programs from federal interference, is close to expiring. If the government shuts down at the expiration of the current resolution on December 22, or if negotiations fail to insert it in a new spending bill Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be free to unleash federal drug agents on marijuana.

Thanks to Congress’ fumbling over the bill to fund federal government operations, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ threatened crackdown on marijuana may get a major boost, Politico reports. A provision of the current spending law known as Rohrabacher-Farr that protects state medical marijuana programs from federal interference, is close to expiring. If the government shuts down at the expiration of the current resolution on December 22, or if negotiations fail to insert it in a new spending bill—entirely possible given House Republicans’ hostility to marijuana—Sessions would be free to unleash federal drug agents on a drug that under federal law is considered the equal of heroin and LSD.

The politics on this issue has shifted so dramatically that reform advocates are actually itching for the fight. “Part of me just thinks: Let ‘em try. There will such a ferocious backlash,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). Blumenauer replaced Sam Farr as the amendment’s Democratic co-sponsor after Farr’s retirement. Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project agreed, saying, “There’s no way that Sessions can start rolling back medical marijuana policies or attacking patients and providers without looking like the bad guy.” With the legislative barrier gone, there would be plenty of ways for Sessions to make life difficult for marijuana businesses. DOJ could quietly send letters to landlords who rented to legal marijuana businesses to threaten them with asset forfeiture. Soon after he took office, Sessions undid the protections of the 2013 memo granting U.S. Attorneys that granted them a great degree of prosecutorial discretion on enforcing federal laws against marijuana. “I … am dubious about marijuana,” Sessions told the National Association of Attorneys General in February. “States can pass whatever laws they choose, but I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

New Spending Law Could Empower Sessions on Pot

A provision of the current spending law that protects state medical marijuana programs from federal interference, is close to expiring. If the government shuts down at the expiration of the current resolution on December 22, or if negotiations fail to insert it in a new spending bill Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be free to unleash federal drug agents on marijuana.

Thanks to Congress’ fumbling over the bill to fund federal government operations, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ threatened crackdown on marijuana may get a major boost, Politico reports. A provision of the current spending law known as Rohrabacher-Farr that protects state medical marijuana programs from federal interference, is close to expiring. If the government shuts down at the expiration of the current resolution on December 22, or if negotiations fail to insert it in a new spending bill—entirely possible given House Republicans’ hostility to marijuana—Sessions would be free to unleash federal drug agents on a drug that under federal law is considered the equal of heroin and LSD.

The politics on this issue has shifted so dramatically that reform advocates are actually itching for the fight. “Part of me just thinks: Let ‘em try. There will such a ferocious backlash,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). Blumenauer replaced Sam Farr as the amendment’s Democratic co-sponsor after Farr’s retirement. Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project agreed, saying, “There’s no way that Sessions can start rolling back medical marijuana policies or attacking patients and providers without looking like the bad guy.” With the legislative barrier gone, there would be plenty of ways for Sessions to make life difficult for marijuana businesses. DOJ could quietly send letters to landlords who rented to legal marijuana businesses to threaten them with asset forfeiture. Soon after he took office, Sessions undid the protections of the 2013 memo granting U.S. Attorneys that granted them a great degree of prosecutorial discretion on enforcing federal laws against marijuana. “I … am dubious about marijuana,” Sessions told the National Association of Attorneys General in February. “States can pass whatever laws they choose, but I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Some Trump Judicial Picks Are Running Aground

The White House drops two nominees for the federal courts after Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley objects. The White House stands by another nominee who couldn’t answer questions at a hearing about basic legal terms.

President Trump’s aggressive push to fill scores of federal court vacancies with conservative judges hit a bump last this week, as he was forced to withdraw two nominees and an embarrassing video went viral showing a third struggling to answer rudimentary questions about the law, the Washington Post reports. The White House is standing by the nomination of Matthew Petersen for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia despite a clip from his confirmation hearing posted on Twitter in which Petersen was unable to answer questions from a Republican senator about legal and courtroom terms. The episode offered more ammunition to Democrats, who say Trump is tapping inexperienced nominees.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley defended Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission since 2008 with no trial experience, saying the regulatory panel handles “the very kinds of issues” the court decides. Senate Republicans tout their work with Trump on judges as “the sleeper story of the year.” This year is the first since 2006 in which the GOP has controlled both the presidency and Senate, presenting a prime opportunity to fill lifetime appointments. There are 143 vacancies on the federal bench. Only one GOP senator, John Kennedy of Louisiana, has voted against a Trump judicial nominee. Last week, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) told the White House to “reconsider” the nominations of Jeff Mateer and Brett Talley, both of whom were reported to have endorsed positions or groups that embrace discrimination. The next day, both nominations were pulled.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Some Trump Judicial Picks Are Running Aground

The White House drops two nominees for the federal courts after Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley objects. The White House stands by another nominee who couldn’t answer questions at a hearing about basic legal terms.

President Trump’s aggressive push to fill scores of federal court vacancies with conservative judges hit a bump last this week, as he was forced to withdraw two nominees and an embarrassing video went viral showing a third struggling to answer rudimentary questions about the law, the Washington Post reports. The White House is standing by the nomination of Matthew Petersen for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia despite a clip from his confirmation hearing posted on Twitter in which Petersen was unable to answer questions from a Republican senator about legal and courtroom terms. The episode offered more ammunition to Democrats, who say Trump is tapping inexperienced nominees.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley defended Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission since 2008 with no trial experience, saying the regulatory panel handles “the very kinds of issues” the court decides. Senate Republicans tout their work with Trump on judges as “the sleeper story of the year.” This year is the first since 2006 in which the GOP has controlled both the presidency and Senate, presenting a prime opportunity to fill lifetime appointments. There are 143 vacancies on the federal bench. Only one GOP senator, John Kennedy of Louisiana, has voted against a Trump judicial nominee. Last week, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) told the White House to “reconsider” the nominations of Jeff Mateer and Brett Talley, both of whom were reported to have endorsed positions or groups that embrace discrimination. The next day, both nominations were pulled.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Racial Disparities in U.S. Prison System Decline

Between 2000 and 2015, the imprisonment rate of black men dropped by more than 24 percent. At the same time, the white male rate increased slightly. Among women, the trend is more dramatic.

For the last 15 years, racial disparities in the U.S. prison system have been declining, The Marshall Project reports in collaboration with the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, based on reports from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting system. Between 2000 and 2015, the imprisonment rate of black men dropped by more than 24 percent. At the same time, the white male rate increased slightly. Among women, the trend is more dramatic. From 2000 to 2015, the black female imprisonment rate dropped by nearly 50 percent; during the same period, the white female rate rose by 53 percent. Similar patterns appear to hold for local jails, although the data are less reliable . Since 2000, the number of blacksin local detention has decreased from 256,300 to 243,400, while the number of whites rose from 260,500 to 335,100.

The narrowing of the gap between white and black incarceration rates is “definitely optimistic news,” said Fordham law Prof. John Pfaff, “But the racial disparity remains so vast that it’s pretty hard to celebrate. How exactly do you talk about ‘less horrific?’ ” Adam Gelb of the Pew Charitable Trusts says, “If we want to continue or accelerate [the trend], we need to acknowledge it and figure out why it’s happening.” Among reasons for the change: Crime, arrests and incarceration are declining overall; the war on drugs has shifted from focusing on crack and marijuana to meth and opioids; whites have faced declining socioeconomic prospects, leading to more criminal justice involvement, and more criminal justice reform has been happening in cities, where more black people live, but not in rural areas. Areas of change include more treatment alternatives for drug offenders, sentence reductions for inmates who participate in educational programming, reentry services for ex-inmates and reduced sanctions for technical violations of parole.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Racial Disparities in U.S. Prison System Decline

Between 2000 and 2015, the imprisonment rate of black men dropped by more than 24 percent. At the same time, the white male rate increased slightly. Among women, the trend is more dramatic.

For the last 15 years, racial disparities in the U.S. prison system have been declining, The Marshall Project reports in collaboration with the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, based on reports from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting system. Between 2000 and 2015, the imprisonment rate of black men dropped by more than 24 percent. At the same time, the white male rate increased slightly. Among women, the trend is more dramatic. From 2000 to 2015, the black female imprisonment rate dropped by nearly 50 percent; during the same period, the white female rate rose by 53 percent. Similar patterns appear to hold for local jails, although the data are less reliable . Since 2000, the number of blacksin local detention has decreased from 256,300 to 243,400, while the number of whites rose from 260,500 to 335,100.

The narrowing of the gap between white and black incarceration rates is “definitely optimistic news,” said Fordham law Prof. John Pfaff, “But the racial disparity remains so vast that it’s pretty hard to celebrate. How exactly do you talk about ‘less horrific?’ ” Adam Gelb of the Pew Charitable Trusts says, “If we want to continue or accelerate [the trend], we need to acknowledge it and figure out why it’s happening.” Among reasons for the change: Crime, arrests and incarceration are declining overall; the war on drugs has shifted from focusing on crack and marijuana to meth and opioids; whites have faced declining socioeconomic prospects, leading to more criminal justice involvement, and more criminal justice reform has been happening in cities, where more black people live, but not in rural areas. Areas of change include more treatment alternatives for drug offenders, sentence reductions for inmates who participate in educational programming, reentry services for ex-inmates and reduced sanctions for technical violations of parole.

from https://thecrimereport.org