Jeff Sessions has been doing his best to justify his renewed War on Drugs by convincing the American people that violent crime is on the rise. In nearly every speech he’s given since becoming attorney general, he’s claimed that crime is taking over the nation—giving cause to enact harsh and dangerous policies such as mandatory minimums, providing military weaponry to local police departments, and civil asset forfeiture. He has a long history of using these tactics to criminalize black and brown bodies. However, the national crime wave he speaks of is complete fiction. Statistics prove that crime, nationwide, is at an all-time low. In other words, facts prove that Jeff Sessions is a complete liar.
In 2015, the total number of violent crimes increased by 3.9 percent nationwide, and the violent crime rate increased by 3.1 percent nationwide, according to data from the FBI. The increases represent the largest single-year increase in the violent crime rate since 1991, but it is hardly a staggering rise. Sessions uses the one-year increase and incomplete data for 2016 to make a sweeping statement about crime across the country. But, one year of data does not constitute a trend. [...]
“Crime is at historically low levels,” said Nick Petersen, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Miami.
Sessions likes to point to specific cities, like Chicago, to prove his point. It is true that Chicago’s murder rate has been consistently high over the decades. But even in Chicago, despite all the negative press, the murder rate is down since the 1990s.
In 2015, Chicago recorded 478 murders, up from 411 in 2014 and 413 in 2013, and every murder factors into Chicago’s violent crime rate. Like most cities around the country, murders in Chicago peaked in the 1990’s, with a high of 943 murders recorded in 1992, and then declined by more than half. Overall, violent crime in Chicago is lower than it has been since the 1960’s. [...]
By zooming in on one city, like Chicago, and looking at violent crime rates over a short period of time, he can claim crime is rising.
It is really easy to cherry pick the data point you want in order to make the claim that decades of progress is being rolled back,” said Ames Grawert, an expert on criminal justice issues at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. “Sessions is pinpointing cities and making the case that they are representative when they are not. If you look at any city crime is way down.”
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