By Lydia Wheeler
July 26, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled Wednesday that he has been implementing recommendations from a task force on violent crime supported by President Trump.
Sessions said in a statement that he has been getting recommendations on a “rolling basis” from the task force that Trump directed him to establish earlier this year.
“Dedicated professionals from throughout the Department have been listening to our partners in state, local, and tribal law enforcement; identifying successful violent crime reduction strategies; and developing recommendations on actions the Department can take to help improve public safety,” he said.
“I have been acting on the Task Force’s recommendations to set the policy of the Department. I will continue to review all of the Task Force’s recommendations, and look forward to taking additional steps towards ensuring safer communities for all Americans.”
The Justice Department did not provide details on what recommendations the task force has provided.
Criminal justice reform advocates were expecting the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety to release a report on Thursday that they feared would link marijuana to violent crime and recommend tougher sentences for those caught growing, selling and smoking it.
In an April memo to the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Justice Department officials, Sessions said the task force work would be accomplished through various subcommittees and that he had asked for initial recommendations no later than July 27.
Sessions released his statement Wednesday amid swirling speculation about his future in the Trump administration following days of criticism directed at him by the president.
Trump has fired off a series of tweets accusing Sessions of taking a “very weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes” and saying that he would not have hired Sessions if he had known he was going to recuse himself from the probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Sessions’s statement Wednesday followed a separate one issued the previous day regarding federal policy on so-called “sanctuary cities,” both of which focused solely on the department’s work, not speculation surrounding Trump’s criticisms.
Sessions had said in the April memo that one of the task force subcommittees would be conducting a “review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities.”
Another, he said, would “explore our use of asset forfeiture and make recommendations on any improvements needed to legal authorities, policies, and training to most effectively attack the financial infrastructure of criminal organizations.”
Just last week, Sessions re-established a controversial criminal asset seizure program.
In his statement Wednesday, Sessions said “every American, no matter who they are or where they live, has the right to be safe in their homes and neighborhoods.”
“And yet, in many locations, the violent crime rate is rising, and in some of our urban areas, the increase is staggering,” he said. “Reducing this crime surge is a top priority for President Trump and the Department of Justice.”
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