Thursday, March 13, 2008

Comment: The President, Crime and Law Enforcement

In a post entitled "Law Enforcement and the Next President" over at Crime and Consequences, Michael Rushford notes, "It has been quite a while since crime and law enforcement were considered issues important enough to merit the attention of Presidential candidates" - this despite the fact that a poll shows crime is considered a very serious problem by 57 percent of the American public. Rushford also notes that our criminal justice policy is "at a tipping point" as a result of "overcrowded, poorly maintained prisons" and lack of financial resources. He then says, "While most crime fighting is done at the state level, the President can have a powerful influence on how local politicians address the issue." How so? After brief attention to "three strikes" laws, attitudes about the death penalty and strategies in judicial appointments, Rushford submits:

There are very important law enforcement decisions a President makes beyond supporting policies and appointing judges. The Attorney General, who heads the entire U. S. Department of Justice, is appointed by the President, as are the 93 United States Attorneys across the country. Bank robbers, interstate drug traffickers, and criminals who smuggle contraband across our borders are prosecuted by these people. The President also appoints the Secretary of State and determines how our country deals with nations that produce illegal drugs or are safe havens for drug cartels and criminals who traffic in illegal firearms, women, and children; pornography; internet fraud; and identity theft. The performance of these agencies can either invite or discourage crime in America. The fundamental responsibility of our government is to assure the safety of its citizens . . . to protect us from threats, be they foreign or domestic. It would be a tragic mistake to elect a President who did not take this responsibility seriously.

While it is difficult to disagree with any of this, the above list of concerns is quite notable for the indirect nature of their relationship to the president. On the other hand, the recitation oddly omits the single most obvious, explicit and direct intersection of presidential power, crime and law enforcement in the U.S. Constitution: the pardon power (See Article II, Section 2). What would really be a tragic mistake is if we elected still yet another president who did not seem to take the pardon power seriously.

1 comment:

JACK said...

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 represents
the bipartisan product of six years of hard work. It is the largest crime bill
in the history of the country and will provide for 100,000 new police
officers, $9.7 billion in funding for prisons and $6.1 billion in funding for
prevention programs which were designed with significant input from
experienced police officers. The Act also significantly expands the
government's ability to deal with problems caused by criminal aliens.
The Crime Bill provides $2.6 billion in additional funding for the FBI, DEA,
INS, United States Attorneys, and other Justice Department components,
as well as the Federal courts and the Treasury Department. Some of the
most significant provisions of the bill are summarized
Jack Harry

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