Attorney General's tough-on-crime policy could divide Republicans

May 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recently issued tough-on-crime drug sentencing memo runs counter to bipartisan efforts to overhaul the criminal justice system, said Mona Lynch, professor of criminology, law and society.

The memo is "a direct swipe at both the congressional effort to do sentencing reform and the U.S. attorneys’ offices efforts to reduce mandatory minimums," Lynch told Bloomberg BNA.

It could also induce conflict within the Republican Party, Lynch said, since many congressional Republicans support reduced sentencing, and many red states are rolling back harsh crime policies to help lower prison populations and balance their budgets.

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The regional divide that might result from tougher federal drug crime sentencing

May 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking a hard stance on federal drug crime sentencing, reversing earlier attempts by the Obama administration to reduce the severity of punishment for low-level offenders.

This change could drive regional, geographic disparities in who gets sentenced and for how long, said Mona Lynch, professor of criminology, law and society. In many states, the legal culture has changed since the drug war mentality of the 1990s. Despite the new policy from the attorney general, these places still have considerable autonomy, and could act independently. Other places may embrace more severe punishments.

"This policy may only increase the divide between jurisdictions that collectively eschew aggressive federal drug prosecutions and those that dive back into the harsh practices of an older era," Lynch said.

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Cops and scholars agree: immigration doesn't increase crime rates

​​May 2017

When police chiefs gather at their conferences to discuss the causes of crime, they talk about gangs, drug trafficking and even dysfunctional family homes, according to retired Anaheim Police Capt. Joe Vargas. They don't talk about immigration.

And that reflects the scholarly findings of Charis Kubrin, professor of criminology, law and society. Kubring has examined hundreds of studies and has found that immigrants are less crime-prone than the native-born population and that immigration to an area causes crime to go down, not up. Kubrin and Vargas both appeared on "Inside OC with Rick Reiff" to discuss immigration, crime and policing.

Irene Vega: 2017-2018 UCI Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow in Criminology, Law and Society

Vega’s postdoctoral project examines Latino immigration agents’ role in legitimizing, reproducing, and disrupting the United States’ racialized immigration control outcomes. Drawing on interviews and document analysis, Vega examines 1) whether Latino agents understand and execute their duties differently from non-Latinos and 2) how these agents shape Latino immigrants’ evaluations of procedural justice in the U.S. immigration system.