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June 17, 2019

Notable new comments from new Deputy AG Jeffrey Rosen to sheriffs

I have not recently posted too many speeches on crime and punishment from Justice Department leaders in part because there have not been too many of these speeches as DOJ leadership has been in transition. But today, Jeffrey Rosen delivered these extended remarks to the National Sheriffs' Association, which he describes as his "first public speech as Deputy Attorney General of the United States." The whole speech is worth reading, and here are some excepts:

Under this administration, we are not using top-down, one-size-fits-all solutions to crime.

Instead, since 2017, each of our 93 U.S. attorneys in your local communities has been directed to develop a customized crime reduction plan for their district — based on the input that they receive from state and local officials like you. We want you to tell us where the biggest dangers are in your counties — and then we’ll help you put the people who commit crimes behind bars.

We call this program project safe neighborhoods, and it is a proven strategy. Interestingly, it was modeled after a program that Attorney General Barr had created during his previous tenure as Attorney General. One of Attorney General Barr’s first policy decisions during his second tenure as Attorney General was to order the creation of a state and local law enforcement coordination section at the department, which will be responsible for further strengthening lines of communication between all levels of law enforcement....

And we have another message for violent criminals: I am happy to report that in the last fiscal year, the Justice Department charged the greatest number of violent crime defendants since we started to track this category more than 25 years ago — back when Bill Barr was Attorney General for the first time.

Department of Justice prosecutors also charged more than 15,000 defendants with federal firearms offenses, which is a record. They broke that record by a margin of 17 percent. What often is misunderstood about such statistics, however, is that many of these federal cases simply adopt and prosecute the great work done by state and local law enforcement in investigating and arresting the most dangerous criminals in our communities....

Our efforts have produced results. In the two years before President Trump took office, there was a significant nationwide increase in violent crime: the violent crime rate went up by nearly seven percent. Robberies went up. Assaults went up nearly 10 percent. Rape went up by nearly 11 percent. Murder increased by a shocking 21 percent.

But today, under President Trump’s administration, crime rates have been falling. Homicide rates and violent crimes went down in 2017. Murders fell an additional 5.8 percent and violent crime fell an additional 4.5 percent last year in 2018. And, I am happy to report, in the first three months of this year, this downward trend has continued: once more murders and violent crimes are down even from last year.

But there remains one area in which far more progress needs to be made — and that is with regard to drug abuse. We are facing a grave situation today. In 2017, 70,000 Americans lost their lives to drugs — more than lose their lives in car crashes.

But we all know that the toll of drug abuse is not only in lives. It is the families torn apart by these drugs and the negative effects that ripple through our communities. Drug abuse has also led to millions of property crimes and violent crimes.

So I want to stand here today and underscore again what you heard from Attorney General Sessions last year: that the Department of Justice is here with you shoulder to shoulder in this fight against the drug epidemic ravaging our communities.

Over the last two years, under this administration, we have gained ground on multiple fronts. First of all, we have dramatically reduced the number of opioid prescriptions. Prescriptions for the seven most frequently abused prescription opioids are down more than 21 percent since 2016 — down to the lowest level in at least a decade.

Meanwhile the Department has increased its drug-prosecution productivity. The number of defendants charged with federal opioid-related crimes increased by 28 percent in 2018.

In confronting drug-related crime, another key element is the crisis at our southern border. For four years in a row, the Drug Enforcement Administration has stated publicly that “Mexican transnational criminal organizations are the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States; no other group is currently positioned to challenge them.” In some ways, it’s a misnomer to call it the “crisis at the border.” It gives the impression that everything is contained just a few states bordering Mexico. Not so. We all know that the crisis at the border is a driver to the drug crisis in our communities, oftentimes hundreds of miles away from the actual border.

The DEA so tells us that the majority of the heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl in this country got here across our southern border. Having a porous southern border makes every county in America more vulnerable to these drugs — whether your county is near the border or not.

June 17, 2019 at 02:59 PM | Permalink

Comments

The politicization of the DOJ is appalling.

Posted by: Def. Atty. | Jun 19, 2019 11:33:13 AM

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