U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking in Macon, announced Thursday that Georgia will receive more than $100 million this year for services to victims of crime.
The money will be part of $3.4 billion approved nationwide to help victims recover and to hold criminals accountable for their crimes. It’s the largest amount ever set aside for that use, Sessions said.
“Almost all of the fund, $3.3 billion, will come from fines, fees and special assessments paid by the criminals, not the taxpayers,” Sessions said. “The grant will be helping crime victims and it will hold criminals accountable.”
Sessions spoke for about 30 minutes to a group that included Georgia sheriffs, police chiefs, districts attorneys and federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.
Representatives from the FBI, GBI, Homeland Security and other federal agencies were also present.
Sessions said his task under President Donald Trump is to reduce violent crime, and Sessions said it begins with supporting law enforcement at the local level.
“We are fully aware of the fact that 85 percent of law officers in America are state and local,” Sessions said. “That’s who’s out there on the front lines and we have to work together... You will not reduce crime in America if you are not backing the men and women in blue, and if our state and federal people are not working together.”
Sessions also denounced recent Supreme Court rulings that allow career criminals to be released early from prison, with many committing more crimes. He also advocated efforts to restore the Armed Criminal Career Act to toughen sentencing for felons who commit crimes with firearms.
In Georgia, a 2015 Supreme Court ruling allowed 16 violent criminals to be released, including six who re-committed crimes, he said.
“The re-arrest rate is not everything,” Sessions said. “Often they get away with crimes. Often the crime that they were arrested for isn’t the first one they’ve committed since they were released. We’ve got to be sure that we’re protecting victims, as well as validating the work of law officers who put their lives on the line to make these arrests to begin with. We need Congress to help us.”
In closing, Sessions vowed to continue ongoing efforts to support law enforcement.
“We have your backs and you have our thanks,” he said.
Sessions did not take questions following his speech.
Earlier, several dozen protesters gathered across the street from where Sessions spoke at the United Sates Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Georgia.
The women’s group called Georgia Women and Those Who Stand With Us had announced plans to protest in advance of the visit.
“His anti-family policies are not welcome here,” the group posted on Facebook. “As a community we need to show up in opposition to his xenophobic and divisive rhetoric.”
Sessions last spoke in Georgia on July 22, when he also addressed violent crime at a convention for prosecuting attorneys.
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