In the midst of a national movement among several high-profile liberals and moderates around the cause of reducing sentences for non-violent drug offenders, Sen. Jeff Sessions took to the floor of the U.S. Senate this week, declaring you can count him out.
In a speech he called “Don’t Weaken Criminal Law in the Middle of a Crime Wave,” Alabama’s senior senator said with crime rates on the rise, now is no time to reduce criminal sentences.
“It’s just tragic to me that we’re making the same mistakes we made in the ’60s and ’70s,” Sessions said. “Crime was increasing at double digits per year in the ’60s and ’70s. A nationwide crime wave ensued. It was a revolving door …”
Sessions cited statistics that indicated crime – and not just the U.S. prison population – was increasing.
“Crime is already rising at an alarming rate. So much so that it prompted an emergency meeting of the Major Cities Chiefs of Police Association in August,” said Sessions. “The New York Times recently reported that murders have increased sharply in many cities across the country since last year, including: Atlanta, up 32%; Baltimore, up 56%; Chicago, up 20%; Houston, up 44%; Los Angeles, up 11%; New York, up 9%; Milwaukee, up 76%; Minneapolis, up 50%; New Orleans, up 22%; Philadelphia, up 4%; Dallas, up 17%; and Washington, D.C, up 47%.”
He also cited the testimony of a recent witness who came before the Senate Judiciary Committee, professor Matt DeLisi.
DeLisi, a criminologist at Iowa State University, testified that “releasing 1 percent of the current [federal prison] population would result in approximately 32,850 additional murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, thefts, auto thefts, and incidents of arson,” according to Sessions.
The move comes as crime rates are reportedly up over 2013, according to recent statistics released by the the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
“Before we rush to judgment about undoing federal sentencing laws, we must consider the results of history, and the reduction in crime we’ve accomplished in the past,” Sessions said. “We have a responsibility to the public to examine every aspect of the legislation that may be coming forward which could greatly impact the everyday lives of Americans for years to come. We need to study what experts have told us, what history tells us about crime.”