Attorney General William Barr reiterated his concerns over district attorneys (DAs) who have vowed not to enforce categories of crime, saying that their policies are “pushing a number of America’s cities back toward a more dangerous past.”
Many of these DAs have won their offices by seeking to implement what they claim to be a more balanced approach to criminal justice in their efforts to “fix” the system. Their policies steer away from the traditional tough-on-crime approach toward less punitive measures, pledging to increase police accountability.
Barr said that these policies strike at the “very root of our law enforcement system” and lead to greater criminality. He said under these policies the homicide rates for several cities have seen an increase, with Philadelphia’s murder rate reaching its highest point in over a decade, despite a falling nationwide crime rate.
The attorney general said that the U.S. criminal justice system is based on a graduated response where punishment is imposed based on an individual’s criminal history. He said this means it is important to collect accurate criminal histories in order to protect the safety of the community.
“Even if we are going to treat early, and petty offenses leniently, we still need them charged and recorded so we know who we are dealing with as time goes by,” he said. “Our whole system is undermined by the practice of ignoring whole categories of criminal offenses.”
Pushback on Sanctuary PoliciesHis comments on Tuesday comes after the attorney general announced that the department was significantly escalating its efforts against jurisdictions that implement “policies and laws designed to thwart the ability of federal officers to take custody of these criminals and thereby help them escape back into the community," commonly known as sanctuary policies.
He revealed several measures the department was taking in order to ensure the “the proper and lawful functioning of our nation’s federal immigration system,” including suing several states over their sanctuary policies, assessing whether jurisdictions across the country are complying with federal criminal laws, and reviewing the actions of certain district attorneys who may have implemented policies that charge foreigners with lesser offenses that would shield them from federal immigration consequences.