I sat next to Mr. Sessions for 10 years on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. We spent hours together in committee hearings, focusing on some of the most pressing issues facing our country. We talked about a million different things — our families, our lives, our views. I really got to know him during that time.
I attended Senator Sessions’ recent confirmation hearing in Washington. What I saw reaffirmed what I have always known — that Jeff Sessions is a man of great principle, who is devoted to protecting the safety and rights of every one of our citizens. I know his character, his passion, his determination, and his deep understanding of the justice system.
Because of his experience as a U.S. attorney, a state attorney general, and a 20-year member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, he has a unique understanding of the issues facing our families and communities. As a federal prosecutor, he worked directly with local law enforcement. He knows intuitively how solutions to problems that local police face can be enhanced with federal engagement and what a difference that involvement can make.
In Ohio right now, there are two things ripping our state apart — the scourge of heroin and repeat violent offenders terrorizing our cities. We urgently need help.
I’ve talked to Senator Sessions about what is destroying Ohio. He gets it. He fully understands every aspect of these two problems because of the depth and breadth of his experience.
We are losing at least eight Ohioans every single day from accidental drug overdoses. Senator Sessions knows what’s needed to stem the influx of drugs into our country. He is committed to establishing new partnerships with the states and will be aggressive in going after the Mexican drug cartels shipping their poison into our neighborhoods.
Senator Sessions also knows that the safety of our communities hinges on removing repeat violent offenders from society. Right now, only a small percentage of the population commits the majority of violent crime. In Ohio, for example, only a tiny fraction of convicted felons — 0.36 percent — are responsible for more than one-third of all violent crime in the state.
Federal law provides very powerful tools, such as strict mandatory sentences, to go after repeat violent offenders who are illegally in the possession of a gun. Many states, however, lack these tools, and tragically under the Obama Administration, we have seen a 25 percent drop in federal gun-crime convictions.
At the same time, the violent crime rate in the United States rose 4 percent in 2015 — the first increase in a decade. According to the FBI, a significant portion of that increase was due to a nearly 13 percent increase in the murder rate for cities. Not surprisingly, the majority of murders committed in the United States are committed by previously convicted felons.
Mr. Sessions will go after the worst of the worst. He will restore a close working relationship between the Department of Justice and local law enforcement and will use the weight of the Justice Department and the U.S. attorneys to increase the size and scope of federal prosecutions of repeat offenders using guns. This will have a direct impact on our communities by removing the most violent criminals from our streets.
Mr. Sessions will make a difference. No one is more qualified, and no one is more committed to leading the Justice Department in the direction of making our communities safer.
The states need help. We need a partner. We need Jeff Sessions.
Mike DeWine is currently serving his second term as Ohio Attorney General. He served for two terms in the U.S. Senate, including 12 years on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. This column originally appeared in The Toledo Blade.