Tom Cotton slams US law enforcement murder clearance rate


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Senator Tom Cotton offered the cursed people to watch the Supreme Court nomination hearings on a Tuesday night a truly bizarre exhibit. It was clear that, despite the suggestions of the New York Times that the Republican honchos in the Senate would conduct a respectful process, at least three members of the caucus had drawn straws to see who would get what horrible line of attack against Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Ted Cruz provided the rhythm for Critical Race Theory, after warming up with a performance by Karen at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. Josh Hawley tried to sell the idea that the person in front of him was a pedophile sympathizer. And Cotton got the law and order angle, which he seemed to take as permission to slip into a hallucinatory event where Judge Jackson was actually appointed to the post of Attorney General.

At least Cotton, like Hawley, actually engaged with Jackson’s case on the bench, even if the two seized on parts of a case or two to portray her as soft on crime. Cotton focused on a case where Jackson used the ‘compassionate release’ elements of the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform measure passed in 2018, to reduce the sentence of a drug ‘kingpin’. . There was some merit in the idea that Jackson had extended the law, although Jackson – agreeing with the characterization of the “pivot” – explained that the defendant had only been sentenced to 20 years in prison in the first place because prosecutors had pushed to use an offense many years before the one in question as an “amelioration,” a practice she said the same First Step Act had abolished.

But at another point, Cotton seemed to think Jackson was in the running to become AG, or even chief of police.

Does the United States need more police or fewer police? … Is a person more likely or less likely to commit a crime if they are more certain that they will be arrested, convicted and sentenced? … Do you know what percentage of murders are solved in America? The answer is about half – 54% in 2020. Do you think we should catch and jail more murderers or fewer murderers? …So is it a yes, we should catch more murderers, especially the 46% of murderers who get away with it? … Let’s move on to assaults. Do you know how many assaults were solved in this country in 2020? 44 percent. Thus, 56% of all victims of aggression did not obtain justice. … Do you know what percentage of sexual assaults and rapes go unsolved in this country? 77 percent.

The Arkansas senator probably didn’t mean it that way, but he just embarked on a lengthy impeachment of US law enforcement. In Chicago, only 45% of homicides were solved in 2020. There’s a cocktail of factors at work here, including community distrust of the police, which hampers investigations and any attempt to find witnesses. But the fact is that American police departments fail to solve many violent crimes.

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Cotton likely thinks this is due to efforts to defund the police – which didn’t actually happen – and overly lenient judges. (The purpose of the interrogation, theoretically, was to portray Jackson as the latter.) It’s a product of the First Step Act, he might say, or efforts to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders we throw the delivered. But it’s been a downward trend since the 1980s, when the Marshall Project tells us that police eliminated about 70% of all homicides. The 1990s saw Democrats in the mold of Bill Clinton adopt law-and-order leanings to match the Republican Party and build a political system that, by and large, persists today. (The First Step Act was meant to be the start of a stalled bipartisan criminal justice reform effort.) There have been some moves toward bail reform and other local measures in recent years, but this ignores the trend. At no time has Cotton ever been confronted with the fact that the United States throws more people into prison than any other country, but it did not yield the expected results.

It’s not just that these issues are beyond the purview of a Supreme Court nominee. It’s what they’re supposed to be in Cotton competence as a congressman, something Jackson sought to emphasize on several occasions. In our system, Congress is responsible for developing this type of policy with state and local governments. It’s just that the legislature has become utterly dysfunctional when it comes to dealing with any issue that has partisan salience, and increasingly it has ceded its powers to the executive and judiciary. It’s a use it or lose it scenario, where Congress has handed over its war powers to the president and much of its regulatory mandate to the courts. And of course, the reason Republicans have taken control of the highest court so ruthlessly is that it has the power to overrule executive decisions, giving them power that transcends elections. And somehow, the whole mess led Cotton to attack the record of US law enforcement in a Supreme Court hearing.

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