tv Washington Ideas Forum Attorney General Loretta Lynch CSPAN January 3, 2016 3:36am-4:01am EST
host: during the katrina ten-year anniversary, there were a ton of studies. one of the most fascinating once had to do with recidivism. the prisoners that went back to the ninth ward, their recidivism rate was higher than going back to the old neighborhood. but, if the family relocated to houston, atlanta, the recidivism rate dropped in half. to me, that sounds like the answer. that is the best evidence i have seen anywhere that the best way to deal with recidivism is to relocate out of the neighborhood. is that a goal? loretta lynch: the goal of the program is to not remove people from their homes or neighborhoods. there is interesting research and data coming out of the housing and urban development department that talks about what you mentioned, but in a larger sense. where you live matters. it matters because of access to services, access to education,
access to a certain quality of life. certainly, post-katrina, the ninth ward suffered tremendously during, after and even still today. it is hard to bring the basics of life together. individuals who went to different locations were plugged into networks of support that were stronger than they would've found in the ninth ward. so, our goal is not just to move people from their neighborhoods, our goal is to strengthen neighborhoods, to support people coming back into them. [applause] host: i want to shift gears. criminal justice reform. we are focusing on this just today, and i think there will be talks that either have happened or will happen.
i don't have a schedule with me. senators booker and lee, democrat and republican, they have criminal justice reform they are introducing today. 20 are mandatory sentences will be reduced to 15. judges will have more discretion to assign shorter terms. there will be the ability should prison programs, dealing with juveniles, new limits on putting them in solitary confinement. i supportive of the general goals of the legislation? loretta lynch: this represents an important opportunity for all of us to look at how we administer criminal justice in this country. it is the goal of the department of justice to protect the american people in a way that is sufficient, transparent, and fair. sentencing reform has been a topic of great bipartisan discussion. the announcement today is a great step forward. we commend and think senators booker, lee, and the other
senators who are working on this. a number of senators crossed the aisle to work on how to improve the system. as a longtime prosecutor, i remember prosecuting cases where we looked at people who were being cycled through the system, nonviolent drug offenders who were facing severe mandatory minimums, either being deported or brought back home. you could not see the utility in it. whereas, we really need to focus on the kingpin, the true leaders and organizers of the narcotics organization. the department of justice has been focused on this for a long time. eric holder introduced the "smart on crime" initiative, which redirected our resources in the narcotics area for nonviolent offenders into an area where judges and prosecutors had more discretion. a lot of that is mirrored in the bill. we are incredibly grateful to see that and we are looking forward to working with all the senators. host: is there anything in here
yet that you would like to see in the? -- the bill? loretta lynch: there are number of people working on this on both sides, in both parties, with all their thoughts on reform. we look forward to more discussions. host: let's talk about how this year has been about -- what this year has been about in terms of your relations with african americans and the police. you have been on a multi-city tour about this. you went to different places. i was struck by an anecdote. you went to birmingham, and a 15-year-old says, "i was raised to hate the police." x it is painful to hear that. loretta lynch: i have been on a six city community policing tour. we went to birmingham, cincinnati, east haven, and i got back from seattle and richmond.
we chose these cities because they have a challenging relationship between police and the citizens. lawsuits, shootings, private investigations, the kind of relationship that you outline where residents talk about a deeply ingrained sense of lack of trust. the larger issue is the lack of connection, really, to the forces that should be protecting them. i was able to speak with young people in every city in which i visited. birmingham was rewarding, because that young person was involved in a program where high school students worked directly with police. we are looking for cities that have, as i said, a challenging relationship with law enforcement. yet, they have found a way to rebuild the relationship, to claw themselves back from the
brink. to find a way in which, when problems develop, there is a mechanism for discussion, transparency, and a working relationship with residents and law enforcement. the way birmingham has been doing that has been getting law-enforcement to talk to -- directly to young people through exercises. they are involved in role-playing exercises. it is a way of breaking down barriers that are created by uniform, whether it is dress blues were baggy pants. people look at you from either side and make judgments, often about what you mean, what you want to do, your views about them. by building those connections and letting people work directly with law enforcement, people came to know that law enforcement was just like them. they have family, concerns, they care about what is happening to the people they are working
with. the most successful exercise was role reversal. the young people play the role of police officers. police officer's play the role of rowdy teenagers who will not get out of the park. watching the young people deal with that, first of all, the officers enjoyed it. [laughter] loretta lynch: watching young people deal with that and having them come to understand how hard a job it is to be a police officer, how many things you have to think about and balance every time you interact with somebody, whether they are younger or older and how easy it can be to let a situation escalate and the importance of building those connections. host: we have a trust deficit in the statistics. we keep track of violent crime rates, but we do not have, and you tell me if the justice department will fix this, but there does not seem to be a
uniform way to keep track of when a police officer discharges a weapon. we do not feel as if -- i mean, right now the best statistic is done by a newspaper, based in europe, the guardian. that's kind of atrocious. loretta lynch: i think the newspapers do a pretty good job sometimes. but, you raise an important point. one of the things we have seen, however, with the recent incidents captured on videotape, i think people have been able to see, in the larger communities, they have been able to see what members of minority communities have talked about for decades, if not generations about the different types of interaction with law enforcement, and whether or not an officer is trained in calming the situation down. it has been hard for people to
understand, if they have not experienced it. so, while we do not have actual numbers-- host: why? is this something where congress has to pass a law, make it mandatory that all police -- you tell me. what would you have to do to have the statistics at hand? loretta lynch: one of the things we're doing is working with local law enforcement. we work with local law enforcement in a collaborative manner. they reach out to the department for technical assistance, training, and sometimes we also, as you know, have police jurisdictions under our jurisdiction and enforcement actions. host: ferguson. am i right about that? loretta lynch: we issued a report on ferguson's practices, not just about policing, but the larger relationship with the municipality and the residents,
which i believe, if you have the opportunity to read that-- host: it was really sad? frustrating, angry? loretta lynch: the real cause of the disconnect that many members of the minority community feel toward the police, the police are the only face of the government they see. often, please get the brunt of a lot of the frustration , anger. this exasperates divide. only have collaborative reform. we do impose record-keeping requirements on police department. no one likes extra paperwork.
how many times a shot is fired. host: some police departments to a good job with this there is we do not have a national cyst this. should we? loretta lynch: one of the things we should focus on is not trying to reach down in washington and dictate to every local department how they should handle the minutia of record keeping. are stressing that these records must be kept. a lot of times it is a resource issue for small department. the average size of a small police department is around 55 people. a lot of them are challenge. this is not to excuse not doing this area this is a very
important tool for these interactions. we encourage it. we also encourage system standards. as you pointed out you can get data from different departments, but it may not give you a big victory. the real issue is to six are important. taking step are we all for the communities that are disenfranchised in this effect. loretta lynch: -- host: let us talk about the rising crime rate. walkie 75 percent, baltimore 56%, washington 44%, have you found a trend get westmark --? do you think it is this is a goal something going to happen?
loretta lynch: i don't think we can sign anyone death to the physical noise. we are looking at this issue, we are trying to identify the root causes. filing crime overall is down. we have these persistent pockets where we see at times, a resurgence in the violent crime rate. we are having a convening next week, we are inviting such as the mayors and police chiefs but also the federal prosecutors of some of the cities that are affected by this to come to washington and sit down and talk about the trends that they have seen. i previously erected all the u.s. attorneys in jurisdictions to convene a local gathering and talk with their local law enforcement about what they were seeing on the ground. for example is it a mess trouble. there's a huge heroine
problem. in new hampshire specifically has huge heroine issue. loretta lynch: heroine and opiates in general is still with us. we have u.s. attorneys to talk with their local law enforcement to see if that is the issue. is the issue arising out of getting violence. it is going to be different for every jurisdiction. lease has gotten a bad rap this year. loretta lynch: when i go out and talk with police departments, they all talk about the increased in community policing, the steps they are taking for de-escalation, there are open to these are part -- crime has gone down. please involvement is a helpful ring overall. that is what we are seeing. do withe of it has to
nonviolent drug offenders. one of the easiest ways you can clean this up is if the --ernment three schedules reschedules marijuana. it is the schedule one drug. more lethalered a drug event like it in. an vicodin. would you support the reclassification of marijuana? host: particularly at the federal level. we mentioned the societal costs in the financial cost. and the cost in human productivity. the majority of those individuals are the victims of the cocaine and crack in balance several years ago. level we the federal
are looking at individuals, nonviolent offenders. not the kingpins. that has been the focus of the federal government. reclassification of marijuana make it easier for you to focus on real offenders? loretta lynch: we do continue to do marijuana cases on the federal level am a we focus on the large-scale importers were the violence occurs. there's still a lot of islands associated with large-scale importation of erewhon a. there are a lot of firearms involved. moneye there is a lot of changing hands, you will find that occurring. for the federal level we focus on the large-scale dealers. for your question on rescheduling marijuana, we are looking at the nonviolent upenders who have been swept
in the crack and cocaine wars. i remember those days, the violent and the year in many minority communities. we're looking at the collateral consequences of those policies and trying to find a way to mitigate them. host: are you comfortable that federal -- government is allowing certain states to sell marijuana legally? toy made a decision not overrule those laws are it are you comfortable with those decisions? loretta lynch: i think states should make those laws on their own. what we say and continue to say is that states also have a have a system designed to mitigate violence associated with marijuana industry. peopletwo, keep young and children away from the product. , we areern that we have seeing a number of situations where children gain access to products that look like candy,
cakes, the purity is different, they are becoming very ill. me,ave stayed expressing to that a state has not legalized a particular substance, see people travel cross state lines to obtain it. we will intervene in those areas. host: a little bit more tougher regulation, you mentioned the candy issue? loretta lynch: we still have a very strong enforcement agency there. states need to deal with this issue. the federal government is still intervening and looking at this situation. our overall goal is to protect the american people. are
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