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Sessions discusses efforts to reduce violent crime

Sessions remarks on family separation

Attorney General Jeff Sessions went on the offensive at an event discussing administration efforts to reduce violent crime, responding to criticisms of the Department of Justice by many on the left. Sessions spoke before a friendly crowd in Macon, Georgia, at the invitation of Charles Peeler, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

Sessions began his address by thanking the law enforcement officers president, and chastising those on the left who believe that the U.S. legal system overwhelmingly targets people of color. Sessions claimed that accusations of bias against police officers were demoralizing. He singled out Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, without naming her, since Warren had said earlier this week that the country's criminal justice system was racist "front to back."

"It does not reflect reality, it is disconnected from reality," Sessions said of Warren's comments, calling it "a slander to every officer and prosecutors in America."

Sessions also said that comments criticizing federal law enforcement officers were "junk," sidestepping the fact that President Trump is one of the most prominent critics of the FBI. Nonetheless, Sessions reiterated Mr. Trump's support for law enforcement. He said that the president had given him two directives: to reduce crime in America and "back the blue."

"We will not reduce crime in America if you're not backing men and women in blue," Sessions said. "President Trump is a law-and-order president. He made that clear from the beginning."

Sessions used the latter portion of the state to discuss Supreme Court decisions which he believed made the country less safe. Sessions criticized the 2015 Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. Daniels, which narrowed the definition of a violent felony. The attorney general listed several examples of felons released under this ruling who went on to commit crimes. He also criticized the 2017 Supreme Court ruling Sessions v. Dimaya, which similarly concluded that the definition of violent felony was too vague as it related to immigration. He did not mention that the deciding vote in this case was by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated by Mr. Trump.

"I wish that things were better, I wish we could be more effective in law enforcement releasing prisoners," Sessions said about the recidivism rate among criminals released from prison. The attorney general promoted the Armed Career Criminal Act in the Senate, introduced by Senator Tom Cotton, Senator Orrin Hatch, and Senator Lindsey Graham, which would counteract the Johnson decision.

Sessions also pushed back against the Dimaya ruling.

"There are those who would rather that we go easy on cartels and gangs. They falsely claim it will save money by letting the criminals back onto our streets early," he said. "They use innocent-sounding terms like "low-level, nonviolent offender" to make people we're dealing with mostly in our criminal justice system aren't serious criminals. Unfortunately, that's not true."

Research suggests that immigrants are not a great threat to public safety, although analysis by The Boston Globe in 2016 found that immigrants reoffend at a higher rate that U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has suggested.