Donald Trump on Crime
2016 Republican incumbent President; 2000 Reform Primary Challenger for President
Trump's actions simply directed the attorney general to enforce already-existing laws. The executive order doesn't create new laws or possible prison sentences. Trump issued the order that, among other things, directed the attorney general to "prioritize" certain cases of vandalism in accordance with "applicable law." The law has been around since 1964.
Mother Jones Fact-Check: Yes, it's true that Trump signed a much-heralded bill in 2018 to reform the federal criminal justice system, with broad bipartisan support. The First Step Act made changes that have reduced the federal prison population, and it was the first criminal justice reform bill to pass Congress in a generation. So far, the law has shortened the prison stays of about 2,500 people who were serving disproportionately long sentences for crack cocaine offenses, most of them African American. And it could lead to improvements in prison conditions.
The president was asked about the case in light of Ava DuVernay's four-part Netflix series about the 1989 case. "You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt," Mr Trump said after a reporter asked him whether he would apologise to the five men.
Five black and Latino teenagers were convicted of attacking a 28-year-old white female jogger who was raped and beaten almost to death during a run in Central Park on 19 April, 1989. Authorities vacated their convictions in 2002, after [another] convicted murderer and serial rapist confessed to the attack and said he had committed it alone. DNA evidence backed up his confession. In 2014, the City of New York settled a wrongful conviction lawsuit with the five men for $41m.
The tweet comes as Newsom signs an executive order that would halt all executions at San Quentin State Prison, closing a new execution chamber. Newsom's order will go against the wishes of California voters, who in 2016 backed a measure to speed up executions.
Meanwhile, Trump has been a supporter of the death penalty. In October, Trump called for the death penalty for those who kill police officers. "Reducing crime begins with respecting law enforcement," Trump said. "We believe that criminals who kill our police officers should immediately, with trial, but rapidly as possible, not 15 years later, 20 years later--get the death penalty."
The president, who regularly brings up Chicago when talking about crime, said that city should strongly consider the controversial "stop and frisk" policy used when his lawyer Rudy Giuliani was mayor of NYC.
"I have directed the attorney general's office to immediately go to the great city of Chicago to help straighten out the terrible shooting wave. I'm going to straighten it out and straighten it out fast," Mr. Trump said. "There's no reason for what's going on there. I've told them to work with local authorities to try to change the terrible deal the city of Chicago entered into with ACLU, which ties law enforcement's hands and to strongly consider stop and frisk. It works and it was meant for problems like Chicago. Got to be properly applied, but stop and frisk works."
Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.But to create this future, we must work with--not against--the men and women of law enforcement. We must build bridges of cooperation and trust--not drive the wedge of disunity and division.
Police and sheriffs are members of our community. They are friends and neighbors, they are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters--and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry whether or not they'll come home safe and sound. We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement. And we must support the victims of crime.
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. We are one nation--and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.
The important distinction here is that stop and frisk as a tactic is constitutional. The way it was applied in New York City, and as it was challenged in the lawsuit that Trump was referring to, was found unconstitutional. Blacks and Hispanics who were stopped by New York police sued the city, arguing that they were targeted for stops in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which argued the case on behalf of the plaintiffs, confirmed that the practice was found unconstitutional in the 2013 case. But NYPD rejected the claim that stop and frisk is unconstitutional, saying Scheindlin ordered remedies to ensure the agency "applies the lawful policing tool constitutionally."
TRUMP: Stop and frisk worked very well in New York. It brought the crime rate way down. You take the gun away from criminals that shouldn't be having it. We have gangs roaming the street. And in many cases, they're illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people. And we have to be very vigilant. Right now, our police, in many cases, are afraid to do anything. We have to protect our inner cities, because African-American communities are being decimated by crime.
Q: Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.
TRUMP: No, you're wrong. Our new mayor refused to go forward with the case. They would have won on appeal. There are many places where it's allowed.
Q: The argument is that it's a form of racial profiling.
TRUMP: No, the argument is that we have to take the guns away from bad people that shouldn't have them. You have to have stop-and-frisk.
A: We need law and order. If we don't have it, we're not going to have a country. I just got today the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. We have endorsements from almost every police group, a large percentage of them in the US. We have a situation where we have our inner cities, African- Americans, Hispanics are living in he'll because it's so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot.
"You know, I feel very strongly about law enforcement," Trump replied. "Law enforcement, it's got to play a big role."
Asked again if he believed there were racial disparities in law enforcement, Trump replied, "I've read where there are and I've read where there aren't. I mean, I've read both. And, you know, I have no opinion on that."
The female jogger would survive the brutal beating but the young men were convicted and served 6 to 13 years in prison. But years later, a career criminal confessed to the rape, providing a DNA match. The convictions were overturned, and the city paid $41 million to settle a wrongful imprisonment suit that the men had filed. Trump called the settlement "a disgrace," refused to apologize, and said, "These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels." He said he wouldn't have given them "a dime" and insisted "they owe the taxpayers an apology for taking money out of their pockets."
TRUMP: The police are absolutely mistreated and misunderstood, and if there is an incident--whether it's an incident done purposely, which is a horror, and you should really take very strong action--or if it is a mistake, it's on your newscasts, and it never ends. The police in this country have done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order, and they're afraid for their jobs, they're afraid of the mistreatment they get, and I'm telling you that not only, me speaking, minorities all over the country, they respect the police of this country and we have to give them more respect. They can't act. They're afraid for losing their pension, their job. They don't know what to do. They want to do their job. And you're going to have abuse and you're going to have problems, and you've got to solve the problems and you have to weed out the problems.
Although he avoided naming the accused in the jogger case, Trump's reference to "roving bands of wild criminals" left no doubt about why he had paid for the ads. Newspaper accounts had described "wolf pack" gangs marauding in the park.
TRUMP: It's a massive crisis. It's a double crisis. I look at these things, I see them on television. And some horrible mistakes are made. But at the same time, we have to give power back to the police because crime is rampant. I believe very strongly that we need police.
Cities need strong police protection. But officers' jobs are being taken away from them. And there's no question about it, there is turmoil in our country on both sides.
Q: Do you understand why African Americans don't trust the police right now?
TRUMP: Well, I can certainly see it when I see what's going on. But at the same time, we have to give power back to the police because we have to have law and order. And you're always going to have mistakes made. And you're always going to have bad apples. But you can't let that stop the fact that police have to regain control of this tremendous crime wave that's hitting the US.
Young male murderers, we are constantly told, are led astray by violent music and violent movies. Fair enough. I believe that people are affected by what they read, see, hear, and experience. Only a fool believes otherwise. So you canít say on one hand that a kid is affected by music and movies and then turn around and say he is absolutely not affected when he turns on the evening news and sees that a criminal has gone to the chair for killing a child. Obviously capital punishment isnít going to deter everyone. But how can it not put the fear of death into many would-be killers?
Soft criminal sentences are based on the proposition that criminals are the victims of society. A lot of people in high places really do believe that criminals are victims. The only victim of a violent crime is the person getting shot, stabbed, or raped. The perpetrator is never a victim. Heís nothing more than a predator.
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