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January 10, 2017

AG-nominee Jeff Sessions puts focus on crime in opening statement before confirmation hearing

Via Politico, here is the text of Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions' full opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, as prepared for delivery.  And here are some excerpts that highlight its crime-fighting tone, as well as some of the effort to thwart certain criticisms already lodged against the nomination:

Protecting the people of this country from crime, and especially from violent crime, is the high calling of the men and women of the Department of Justice. Today, I am afraid, that has become more important than ever.

Since the early 1980s, good policing and prosecutions have been a strong force in reducing crime. Drug use and murders are half what they were in 1980. I am very concerned, however, that the recent jump in the violent crime and murder rates are not anomalies, but the beginning of a dangerous trend that could reverse the hard won gains that have made America a safer and more prosperous place. The latest official FBI statistics show that all crime increased nearly 4 percent from 2014 to 2015 with murders increasing nearly 11 percent — the largest single year increase since 1971. In 2016, there were 4,368 shooting victims in Chicago. In Baltimore, homicides reached the second highest per-capita rate ever.

The country is also in the throes of a heroin epidemic, with overdose deaths more than tripling between 2010 and 2014. Meanwhile, illegal drugs flood across our southern border and into every city and town in the country, bringing violence, addiction, and misery.

We must not lose perspective when discussing these statistics. We must always remember that these crimes are being committed against real people, real victims. It is important that they are kept in the forefront of our minds in these conversations, and to ensure that their rights are always protected.

These trends cannot continue. It is a fundamental civil right to be safe in your home and your community. If I am confirmed, we will systematically prosecute criminals who use guns in committing crimes. As United States Attorney, my office was a national leader in gun prosecutions every year. We will partner with state and local law enforcement to take down drug trafficking cartels and dismantle gangs. We will prosecute those who repeatedly violate our borders. It will be my priority to confront these crises vigorously, effectively, and immediately.

Approximately 90 percent of all law enforcement officers are not federal, but local and state. They are the ones on the front lines. They are better educated, trained and equipped than ever before. They are the ones who we rely on to keep our neighborhoods, and playgrounds, and schools safe. But in the last several years, law enforcement as a whole has been unfairly maligned and blamed for the actions of a few bad actors and for allegations about police that were not true. They believe the political leadership of this country abandoned them. They felt they had become targets. Morale has suffered. And last year, while under intense public criticism, the number of police officers killed in the line of duty increased ten percent over 2015. This is a wake up call. This must not continue.

If we are to be more effective in dealing with rising crime, we will have to rely heavily on local law enforcement to lead the way. To do that, they must know that they are supported. If I am so fortunate as to be confirmed as Attorney General, they can be assured that they will have my support.

As I discussed with many of you in our meetings prior to this hearing, the federal government has an important role to play in this area. We must use the research and expertise of the Department of Justice to help them in developing the most effective and lawful enforcement methods to reduce crime. We must re-establish and strengthen the partnership between federal and local officers to enhance a common and unified effort to reverse the current rising crime trends. I did this as United States Attorney. I worked directly and continuously with state and local law enforcement officials. If confirmed, it will be one of my primary objectives....

In recent years, our law enforcement officers also have been called upon to protect our country from the rising threat of terrorism that has reached our shores. If I am confirmed, protecting the American people from the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism will continue to be a top priority of the Department of Justice. We will work diligently to respond to threats, using all lawful means to keep the American people safe from our nation’s enemies. Partnerships will also be vital to achieving much more effective enforcement against cyber threats, and the Department of Justice clearly has a lead role to play in that essential effort. We must honestly assess our vulnerabilities and have a clear plan for defense, as well as offense, when it comes to America’s cybersecurity.

The Department of Justice must never falter in its obligation to protect the civil rights of every American, particularly those who are most vulnerable. A special priority for me in this regard will be aggressive enforcement of our laws to ensure access to the ballot for every eligible American voter, without hindrance or discrimination, and to ensure the integrity of the electoral process....

You can be absolutely sure that I understand the immense responsibility I would have. I am not naïve. I know the threat that our rising crime and addiction rates pose to the health and safety of our country. I know the threat of terrorism. I deeply understand the history of civil rights and the horrendous impact that relentless and systemic discrimination and the denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters. I have witnessed it. I understand the demands for justice and fairness made by the LGBT community. I understand the lifelong scars born by women who are victims of assault and abuse.

A few prior related posts on AG-nominee Sessions:

January 10, 2017 at 10:24 AM | Permalink

Comments

"They are better educated, trained and equipped than ever before."

I love this verbal dance. This isn't to say, of course, that the police are actually educated and trained. Only that they are better educated and trained than before, which doesn't take much.

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 10, 2017 4:03:22 PM

"...law enforcement as a whole has been unfairly maligned and blamed for the actions of a few bad actors and for allegations about police that were not true."

My personal feelings and evidently large portions of the public, would disagree with the perception that it's only "a few bad actors" and would probably say there are fewer and fewer checks and balances trying to screen out and identify these so called "bad actors" before they're put into positions of authority. Better law enforcement personnel screening, training, education and community policing methodologies need to take a front row center seat in this also. Just the fact that the messenger Sessions is saying this is enough to make it sound like more BS.

Posted by: Ed | Jan 10, 2017 5:05:03 PM

Not one, not one comment about preventing crime. All about punishment. Not the man we need in this country.

Posted by: Anne | Jan 10, 2017 8:43:52 PM

Anne. To prevent crime you would have to end the lawyer jihad against all forms of authority competing with the lawyer owned subsidiary, big government. The Family. The Church. The School. The Corporation. You would have to allow victims and their families to kill the criminals, in self help.

If you are a lawyer, you might lose your job, as happened after mandatory sentencing guidelines dropped crime 40%.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 10, 2017 10:14:45 PM

Funny to watch the Dems whine abut Jeff Sessions after turning a blind eye to the issues with Eric "Marc Rich" Holder.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 11, 2017 9:41:19 AM

@David

That sure sounds a lot like a Supremacy Claus comment...

Anyhow, I thought of a new way to phrase your objection recently and it is this: the rule of law should not be reduced to rule by lawyers.

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 11, 2017 12:35:02 PM

Daniel. The rule of law is actively impaired by the rule of lawyers. They have an inherent economic conflict of interest with no remedy, except for external controls.

At Harvard, very smart people developed the iron lung and many rehabilitation/braces innovations to help polio victims. An iron lung cost the same as a single family house. It was personnel intensive.

In Pittsburgh, they developed a polio vaccine that resulted in massive unemployment in the iron lung and rehabilitation/braces businesses. If you incapacitate a single violent career criminal, you cost people $millions in government jobs.

Criminality has external and internal factors. In 20 years, CRIPRcas9 technology will end the internal brain factors of criminality, fearlessness, selfishness, lack of empathy, presentism, and impulsivity. The external factors, alcohol, low risk, high reward, bastardy, and the protection of the lawyer profession will have to be addressed in public self help.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 13, 2017 7:23:17 PM

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