Anger over Donald Trump’s UK crime tweet

Donald Trump has been accused of fuelling hate crime with a tweet erroneously linking a rise in the UK crime rate to “radical Islamic terror”.

He said crime in the UK had risen by 13% amid the “spread” of Islamist terror – despite the figure referring to all crimes, not just terrorism.

The Labour MP, Yvette Cooper, said the statement was “inflammatory and ignorant”, while ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband said Mr Trump was “a moron”.

The Home Office declined to comment.

Mr Trump’s tweet used data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)’s latest crime update, which reported a 13% increase across all offences in the 12 months to June.

It covered England and Wales, not the whole of the UK.

Police recorded 5.2m offences in the last year, the bulk of which were not associated with terrorism.

Rises were recorded in crime public order offences, stalking and harassment, possession of weapons and robbery.

The statistics – which made no reference to “radical Islamic terror” – showed that 35 out of the 664 homicides in England and Wales were caused by terror attacks in London and Manchester.

US media outlets have speculated whether Mr Trump’s tweet followed a TV report on One America News Network, a conservative TV channel, which aired the statistics on Friday morning.

Donald Trump is half right.

Crime has gone up by 13% – but not in the UK. The increase announced yesterday covered England and Wales whereas Scotland and Northern Ireland publish their data separately.

But overlooking that mistake, what about the phrase that appears to connect the increase to the “spread of radical Islamic terror”?

The number of cases of murder and attempted murder linked to Islamist-related extremism, has indeed gone up substantially.

Of the 664 homicides recorded in the year ending June 2017, 34 resulted from the Westminster Bridge, Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks – there were no such deaths last year.

The attacks also accounted for the majority of the 426 additional attempted murders registered by police.

Arrests for terror-related offences went up as well, from 226 to 379, across England, Wales and Scotland, though that number also includes people detained for far-right extremism.

But in terms of overall offending, this increase in terror-related crime represents a fraction, when you consider that there were an extra 579,553 offences recorded by police compared with the year before.

[BBC News]

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Enacts Harsher Charging, Sentencing Policy

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is directing federal prosecutors to seek “the most serious” criminal charges against suspects, a move that would result in severe prison sentences – and is expected to reverse recent declines in the overcrowded federal prison system.

The brief, two-page directive, issued to the 94 U.S. attorneys offices across the country late Thursday, replaces a 2013 memo put in place by then-Attorney General Eric Holder that sought to limit the use of mandatory-minimum sentencing rules that had condemned some non-violent offenders to long prison terms – that proved to be expensive for taxpayers.

Justice officials said the new policy would not target low-level drug offenders, unless they were linked to firearms, gang membership or other aggravating crimes.

“This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency,” Sessions said in the directive. “This policy fully utilizes the tools Congress has given us. By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial… sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”

Under the plan, ten-year mandatory minimum sentences would typically be sought in cases where suspects were in possession of 1 kilogram of heroin (equal to thousands of doses); 5 kilograms of cocaine (about 11 pounds); or 1,000 kilograms of marijuana (more than 2,000 pounds).

“There will be circumstances in which good judgment would lead a prosecutor to conclude that a strict application of… the charging policy is not warranted,” Sessions said. But such exercises of discretion, the attorney general said, would be subject to high-level approval.

On Friday, Holder sharply rebuked the action, calling it “absurd” and “dumb on crime.”

“It is an ideologically-motivated, cookie-cutter approach that has only been proven to generate unfairly long sentences that are often applied indiscriminately and do little to improve public safety,” Holder said. “These reversals will be both substantively and financially ruinous, setting the department back on a track to again spending one-third of its budget on incarcerating people rather than preventing, detecting or investigating crime.”

Justice officials already have alerted federal prison officials that the action, in conjunction with the administration’s recently announced increase in immigration prosecutions, would likely result in a larger prison population.

Last month, Sessions directed federal prosecutors to bring felony charges against immigrants suspected of making repeated illegal entries to the United States. Undocumented entry cases have been previously charged as misdemeanors.

During the Obama administration, Holder’s policy had sought to reduce the size of the federal prison system that has long been a financial drag on the Justice budget. That policy echoed shifts in law enforcement policy that had been sweeping the states in recent years. State officials have increasingly acknowledged that they can no longer bear the cost of warehousing offenders – many for drug crimes – who were targets of harsh punishments which began decades ago.

The number of sentenced prisoners in federal custody fell by 7,981 inmates – or 5% – between the end of 2009 and 2015, according to a January Pew Research Center analysis. Preliminary figures for 2016 show the decline continued during Obama’s last full year in office and that the overall reduction during his tenure will likely exceed 5%, the center found.

The federal prison population now stands at nearly 190,000 inmates.

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill asserted that the Sessions memo represented a reinstatement of “long-discredited policy of harshly punishing individuals who commit low-level, non-violent drug offenses.”

“Attorney General Sessions has turned back the clock on our criminal justice system, ensuring it will continue to disproportionately punish black people, harming our communities and widening painful divides in our society,” she said.

[USA Today]

AG Sessions Says DOJ to ‘Pull Back’ on Police Department Civil Rights Suits

Donald Trump’s attorney general said Tuesday the Justice Department will limit its use of a tactic employed aggressively under President Obama — suing police departments for violating the civil rights of minorities.

“We need, so far as we can, to help police departments get better, not diminish their effectiveness. And I’m afraid we’ve done some of that,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“So we’re going to try to pull back on this,” he told a meeting of the nation’s state attorneys general in Washington.

Sessions said such a move would not be “wrong or insensitive to civil rights or human rights.” Instead, he said people in poor and minority communities must feel free from the threat of violent crime, which will require more effective policing with help from the federal government.

While crime rates are half of what they were a few decades ago, recent increases in violent crimes do not appear to be “an aberration, a one-time blip. I’m afraid it represents the beginning of a trend.”

Sessions said he will encourage federal prosecutors to bring charges when crimes are committed using guns. Referring local drug violations that involve the use of a firearm, for example, to federal court can result is often a stiffer sentence than would be imposed by state courts.

“We need to return to the ideas that got us here, the ideas that reduce crime and stay on it. Maybe we got a bit overconfident when we’ve seen the crime rate decline so steadily for so long,” he said.

Under the Obama Administration, the Justice Department opened 25 investigations into police departments and sheriff’s offices and was enforcing 19 agreements at the end of 2016, resolving civil rights lawsuits filed against police departments in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, New Orleans, Cleveland and 15 other cities.

On Monday, Sessions said he is reviewing the Justice Department’s current policy toward enforcing federal law that prohibits possession of marijuana, but has made no decision about whether to get tougher.

His opposition to legalization is well known, and he emphasized it during an informal gathering of reporters . “I don’t think America will be a better place when more people, especially young people, smoke pot.”

States, he said, can pass their own laws on possession as they choose, “but it remains a violation of federal law.”

The current policy, spelled out in a 2013 memo from former deputy attorney general James Cole, said federal prosecutions would focus on distribution to minors, involvement of gangs or organized crime, sales beyond a state border, and growing marijuana plants on federal land.

(h/t NBC News)

DOJ Walks Back Guidance Discouraging Use of Private Prisons

The Department of Justice has rescinded guidance from August that discouraged the use of private prisons.

“This will restore (the Bureau of Prison’s) flexibility to manage the federal prison inmate population based on capacity needs,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

In August, then-deputy Attorney General Sally Yates directed the Bureau of Prisons to reduce its use of private prison contracts. In the August memo, she said private prisons had been used to house a prison population that had grown 800% between 1980 and 2013.

But, she said, the population is now on the decline, from 220,000 in 2013 to 195,000 in 2016.

A DOJ official said on background Thursday that the BOP has 12 private prison contracts, housing approximately 21,000 inmates.

In a new memo dated February 21 and released for the first time on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote that the Yates memo “changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.” He directed the bureau to “return to its previous approach.”

“This will restore BOP’s flexibility to manage the federal prison inmate population based on capacity needs,” the Justice Department said in a statement Thursday.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker was quick to speak out against the change in policy.

“The Trump administration’s decision to reverse course on existing policies designed to gradually end the use of private prisons is a major setback to restoring justice to our criminal justice system,” Booker said in a statement. “The Bureau of Prisons’ own inspector general has found that privately-managed prisons housing federal inmates are less safe and less secure than federal prisons, and these facilities have seen repeated instances of civil rights violations. Attaching a profit motive to imprisonment undermines the cause of justice and fairness.”

(h/t CNN)

Reality

As The Week put it: “Private prisons ultimately pose a greater threat to inmates because of their raison d’être; they exist solely to make a profit off of incarcerated individuals.”

The private prison industry also have contributed big sums to pro-Trump groups, including the organization that raised a record $100 million for his inauguration last month.

Trump Makes False Statement About U.S. Murder Rate to Sheriffs’ Group

President Trump met Tuesday morning with a group of sheriffs from the National Sheriffs Association, a group that consists of more than 3,000 sheriffs from around the country. And to this sworn group of  law enforcement veterans, with reporters taking notes, he again repeated a falsehood about the murder rate in America.

Trump told the sheriffs, “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” He blamed the news media for not publicizing this development, then added, “But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, 45 to 47 years.”

The country’s murder rate is not the highest it’s been in 47 years. It is almost at its lowest point, actually, according to the FBI, which gathers statistics every year from police departments around the country.

The murder rate is defined as the number of murders and non-negligent homicides per 100,000 residents. Beginning in 1957, when the rate was 4.0 murders per 100,000 residents, the rate rose steadily to a high of 10.2 in 1980. It then steadily dropped, to 7.4 in 1996, to 6.1 in 2006, to 4.4 in 2014. It went up in 2015 to 4.9. But that is less than half the murder rate of 1980. The raw number of homicides in America has actually declined from 19,645 in 1996 to 15,696 in 2015, even while the population has risen from 265 million in 1996 to 321 million in 2015.

The violent crime rate in America also has plummeted over the years. Defined as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, violent crimes peaked at a rate of 758 per 100,000 residents in 1991, and the rate was about 373 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2015, again a decline of more than half.

The statistics for 2016 are not yet available. Here is the FBI’s violent crime table for the years 1996 to 2015.

(h/t Washington Post)

Timing Suggests Trump’s Tweet About Sending ‘Feds’ to Chicago Was Response to Bill O’Reilly Segment

President Donald Trump may be making decisions based on what he watches on Fox News.

Late on Tuesday, the president tweeted about the gun violence in Chicago, writing, “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the feds!”

Numerous reporters noted that Trump’s tweet came shortly after an “O’Reilly Factor” segment on the same topic, which cited the same statistics and even used the word “carnage,” a recent favorite noun of Trump’s.

Though Chicago has a higher number of gun deaths than any other major city, the number of deaths per capita is notably lower than in other cities because of Chicago’s large population. And while the city has attempted to use strict gun laws to curb shootings, about 60% of guns used in shootings last year were purchased out of state.

Tuesday’s tweet would hardly be the first time Trump has fired off a proposal in reaction to a TV segment.

Axios confirmed that Trump reads The New York Times and The New York Post, frequently tunes into cable TV — most notably MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and NBC’s “Meet The Press” — and will praise or criticize aides after performances on TV.

Many top policymakers have attempted to get their message to Trump via his favorite TV programs.

Appearing on “Morning Joe” on Wednesday, Rep. Elijah Cummings thanked host Joe Scarborough for asking him about how he would work with Trump on reducing prescription drug pricing, and then he spoke directly to the president.

“Joe, I want to thank you all for giving that opening, and to the president, I know you’re watching, so I’m looking forward to meeting with you,” Cummings said.

Trump Promotes Unconstitutional and Failed Stop-And-Frisk Policing

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump praised the controversial “stop-and-frisk” police tactic Wednesday, saying it “worked incredibly well” when it was used in New York City.

Trump was speaking at a town hall moderated by Fox News’ Sean Hannity at a mostly black church in Cleveland, Ohio when he was asked how he would stop violence in black communities.

In response, Trump pointed to “stop-and-frisk”, which allows police to stop and search any person officers deem suspicious.

“I think you have to [do it],” Trump said. “We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive.”

“Now, we had a very good mayor, but New York City was incredible, the way that worked, so I think that could be one step you could do.”

“Stop-and-frisk” drew complaints from New York City minorities, who claimed they were being disporportionately stopped for searches by officers. In 2013, a federal court ruled that the practice was unconstitutional and its use has since been scaled back.

(h/t Fox News)

Reality

Donald Trump isn’t the “law and order candidate,” but the “every failed police tactic that targeted minorities candidate.”

Trump failed to mention that in every city where stop-and-frisk was implemented, they have become case studies in the perils of such an approach. And it was quite brazen of Trump to promote it at an African American forum since it overwhelming targeted based om race, not reasonable suspicion, and caused African American, Latino, and other minority communities to distrust the police and avoid them when nearby.

Four of the five biggest American cities — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia — have all used stop-and-frisk tactics in an attempt to lower crime. Despite what Trump says, the results are mixed, and in each city the methods have been found unconstitutional for disproportionately targeting minorities.

For example, in Donald Trump’s hometown the NYPD’s practices were found to violate New Yorkers’ Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and also found that the practices were racially discriminatory in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Trump wants to take this nationally.

The most proven form of policing is when officers work with communities thereby gaining trust of a population. So when there is an issue in their neighborhood, residents are more likely to open up and offer evidence.

Donald Trump is wrong that ‘inner-city crime is reaching record levels’

As part of Donald Trump’s declared outreach to black voters, the Republican presidential nominee has painted a dire picture of American “inner cities” rife with crime, and stated only he can make them safe.

(h/t Wall Street Journal)

Reality

PolitiFact gave Trump’s claim a “Pants on Fire,” their worst truth rating, and even the conservative-leaning Wall Street Journal corrected Trump on his disregard for the facts.

While crime has indeed ticked up recently, according to FBI data it remains near historic lows, even in America’s largest cities like Mr. Trump’s hometown of New York City.

And even if crime isn’t hitting record levels, there is growing evidence that there has been a one-year uptick, at least in certain cities. Trump’s supporters have seized on this as evidence that Trump isn’t totally off base in claiming that crime is on the rise.

Even if the recent one-year spike proves durable, the rates of homicides and violent crime in general have fallen so much in the past 25 years that the recent increases will not push them up to “record” levels at any time in the near future.

 

Trump Tweets Police Deaths Up 78%, When Actually Unchanged

Twitter

In a tweet Donald Trump repeated a previously debunked statistic that police officers killed in the line of duty by gunfire is up 78% this year. However the number of officers killed in the line of duty has not changed compared to last year.

Reality

This is a tragic stat which is why Donald Trump should not be dishonest with these figures.

The Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks officer deaths, reports that as of the time of Trump’s tweet 32 police officers have been killed by gunfire so far this year, while 21 were killed in line of duty by gunfire during the same period last year. That is a 52% increase.

But keep in mind that context is important. Overall the total number of officers killed in the line of duty compared to last year is unchanged, at 69.

Trump repeated a false statistic regarding officer deaths a week prior when he spoke at the Republican National Convention, but said police killed in the line of duty was up 50%, when at the time it was actually down 1%.

Donald Trump wants to claim Blue Lives Matter but he is willing to dishonor police by exaggerating real officer deaths to stoke fears for political gain.