Campaign Promises

Cabinet/Departments -> Justice -> Crime


ItemJustice
CrimeGrade
JU-11
The Promise: "...will crack down on mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud by increasing enforcement and creating new criminal penalties."
When/Where: Candidate Obama speech, Washington, D.C., 07/18/07, Topic: "Changing the Odds for Urban America."
Source: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=77007
Status:On 05/20/09, President Obama signed into law the "Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act." This new law changed the mortgage applications statute (18 U.S.C. Section 1014) to make it a crime to make a materially false statements or to willfully overvalue a property in order to influence any action by a mortgage lending business.

On 02/01/12, President Obama announced new standards to protect mortgage borrowers in their dealings with mortgage professionals.

This promise was fulfilled.
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JU-12
The Promise: "Will fully fund the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to combat crime and help address police brutality and accountability issues in local communities."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Supporting Urban Prosperity" dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/550008/barack-obama-2008-supporting-urban-prosperity.pdf
Status:The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 provided an over-and-above infusion of $1B to state, local and tribal governments for the hiring or rehiring of additional career law enforcement officers. This was expected to fund an estimated 5,500 local police officers and brought the total appropriation for COPS in FY2009 to $1.55B.

The COPS program funding requirement for FY2010 was $798M. $792M was appropriated by Congress.

For FY2011, the appropriation for the COPS program went down to $307M. It is noteworthy that in CY2011, the House voted to eliminate the COPS program entirely.

In FY2012, COPS program funding was further decreased to the $198.5M level. With minor fluctuations, but still far below program requirements, here's how COPS program funding fared during the remainder of President terms in office:

FY2013....$289M Required....$198M Enacted
FY2014....$439M Required....$214M Enacted
FY2015....$274M Required....$208M Enacted
FY2016....$303M Required....$212M Enacted
FY2017....$286M Requested

Except for a significant uptick in COPS funding for FY2009, at no time did annual appropriations meet program requirements during President Obama's two tours in office. This promise was not fulfilled.
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JU-13
The Promise: "As president, Obama will restore funding for anti-drug and anti-gang task forces funded under the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne/JAG) Program."
When/Where: Obama Plan "Renewing U.S. Leadership in the Americas", dated 06/06/08.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/85c9392c81570937d6_lqomvygpq.pdf
Status:The Byrne/JAG Grant Program was created under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-351 as amended through P.L. 114-324, enacted 12/16/16). Administered by the DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), its purpose is to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system through flexible, multi-purpose formula grants to states, local governments, and Indian tribes. The awards support a wide range of criminal justice and public safety initiatives, including (1) law enforcement, (2) courts, crime prosecution and indigent defense, (3) crime prevention and education, (4) corrections and community corrections, (5) drug treatment and enforcement, (6) justice system strategic planning, (7) technology for law enforcement and public safety, and (8) crime victim and witness services and programs. The cited law does not specifically call out "anti-drug and anti-gang" task force initiatives.

Under the 1968 law cited above, Congress is authorized to spend up to $1.095B per year for the Byrne/JAG Grant Program. However, annual funding has been less than 50% of the authorized amount since before the Bush Administration. Therefore the "restore funding" aspect of this promise was interpreted to apply to the Byrne/JAG Grant Program in its entirety. President Obama had to request and obtain the above-cited authorized funding level of $1.095B for Byrne/JAG for this promise to be fulfilled. Here are the annual appropriations for Byrne/JAG under President Obama:
FY2010....$511M
FY2011....$424M
FY2012....$352M
FY2013....$352M
FY2014....$376M
FY2015....$376M
FY2016....$376M
FY2017....$383M (Requested)

Other than the "plus-up" authorized under the ARRA, we see a steady year-to-year decline in funding for the Byrne/JAG Grant Program (including anti-drug and anti-gang activities mitigation) during the timeframe FY2010-FY2013, with the remaining years funded at roughly one third of the authorized amount.

This promise was not fulfilled.
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JU-14
The Promise: "Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe the [sentencing] disparity between crack and powder-based cocaine is wrong, cannot be justified and should be eliminated....will work in a bipartisan way to eliminate these disparities."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Creating Equal Opportunity and Justice for All" dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://my.ofa.us/page/-/HQpress/Fact%20Sheet%20Howard%20Convocation%20FINAL%20IH.pdf
Status:Section 4713 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, signed into law by President Obama on 10/28/09, states in part: "Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the United States Sentencing Commission shall submit to the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives a report on mandatory minimum sentencing provisions under Federal law. The report ... shall include...an assessment of the effect of mandatory minimum sentencing provisions under Federal law on the goal of eliminating unwarranted sentencing disparity and other goals of sentencing..."

The Senate voted in favor of a bill on 03/17/10 to reduce the sentencing disparity between cocaine and crack offenses to a ratio of 18 to 1. This was far from the 1 to 1 ratio sought by the House, but the House approved a similar bill on 07/28/10, retaining the 18 to 1 ratio. President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 into law on 08/03/10.

This promise was fulfilled.
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JU-15
The Promise: "...will immediately review (mandatory minimum) sentences to see where we can be smarter on crime and reduce the ineffective warehousing of nonviolent drug offenders."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Creating Equal Opportunity and Justice For All", dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://my.ofa.us/page/-/HQpress/Fact%20Sheet%20Howard%20Convocation%20FINAL%20IH.pdf
Status:Section 4713 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, signed into law by President Obama on 10/28/09, states in part: "Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the United States Sentencing Commission shall submit to the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives a report on mandatory minimum sentencing provisions under Federal law."

On 11/22/16, President Obama commuted the sentences of 79 drug offenders, bringing the total number of similar commutations during his two terms in office to 1,032. Of these inmates serving life sentences prior to commutation: 342.

This promise was fulfilled.
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JU-16
The Promise: "...would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Supporting Urban Prosperity", dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/550008/barack-obama-2008-supporting-urban-prosperity.pdf
Status:While an FY2010 improvement to this amendment permits state and local law enforcement officials to have full access to gun trace databases to analyze gun trafficking patterns, President Obama's promise was to "repeal" this amendment, a repeal supported by the Brady Campaign and "Mayors Against Illegal Guns."

Rather, President Obama's FY2011 budget proposal maintained language that required the destruction of most Brady Law background check records, banned the government from requiring gun dealers to fully account for firearms in their possession, and prohibited public access to information about guns used to commit crimes.

Nonetheless, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the "Tiahrt Restrictions Repeal Act" (H.R. 661) on 02/13/13 (113th Congress) and again before the 114th Congress (H.R. 1449) on 03/18/15. These bills expired without enactment action at the end of CY2014 and CY2016 respectively.

As of end-CY2016, despite renewed gun control efforts, the Tiahrt Amendment had not been repealed.

This promise was not fulfilled.
0.00
JU-17
The Promise: "Establish the legal status of contractor personnel, making possible prosecution of any abuses committed by private military contractors."
When/Where: Obama Campaign Document "A 21st Century Military for America" dated 11/26/07.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/303d3f8f5e85133bae_9ypmvyari.pdf
Status:The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (MEJA)/Expansion and Enforcement Act of 2007 was introduced by Representative David Price (D-NC) on 06/15/07. This legislation was initially passed by the House on 10/04/07, but didn't get any further in the Senate.

It was felt at the time that DoD and other agency contractors serving in such areas as Iraq or Afghanistan could engage in criminal conduct with impunity because they operated outside of the jurisdiction of the United States criminal code.

On 02/02/10, Congressman David Price (D-NC) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced bills (H.R. 4567 and S. 2979 respectively) entitled "Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA) of 2010." No action beyond initial Committee reviews was taken on these bills during the 111th Congress and both expired at the end of CY2010.

Congressman Price and Senator Leahy reintroduced their CEJA bills to the 112th Congress (H.R. 2136 and S. 1145) on 06/03/11 and 06/06/11 respectively. Both bills expired with the 112th Congress at the end of CY2012.

Senator Leahy again reintroduced a CEJA to the 113th Congress (S. 2598) on 07/14/14 and to the 114th Congress (S. 1377) on 05/19/15. These bills expired without further enactment action at the end of CY2014 and CY2016 respectively.

This promise was not fulfilled.
0.00
JU-18
The Promise: "...will direct his Attorney General and Homeland Security Secretary to meet with their Latin American and Caribbean counterparts in the first year of his presidency to produce a regional strategy to combat drug trafficking, domestic and transnational gang activity, and organized crime. A hemispheric pact..."
When/Where: Obama Plan: "Renewing U.S. Leadership in the Americas" dated 06/06/08.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/85c9392c81570937d6_lqomvygpq.pdf
Status:In the first 100 days of the Obama Administration, the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security (DHS) launched new initiatives to combat Mexican drug cartels both in the USA and in Mexico in close coordination with their Mexican counterparts. Attorney General Eric Holder's first foreign trip was to Mexico in early 04/09, accompanied by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. During meetings with Mexican President Calderon and Mexican Attorney General Medina-Mora, the framework of a new regional strategy was discussed, but no further action is known to have taken place towards its production.

The fifth Summit of the Americas held at Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on 04/17-19/09 provided a 'one-stop-shopping' opportunity for DOJ and DHS high level officials to meet with all their Latin American and Caribbean counterparts to agree on the framework for the promised "regional strategy." This didn't happen.

It should be noted that programs to thwart Latin America/Caribbean drug trafficking, gang activity and organized crime were in place long before President Obama assumed the presidency. When this promise was made, effective programs included but were not limited to the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), Colombia's Justice Sector Reform Program (JSRP), the Partnership for Growth Program, the "Merida Initiative" for Mexico and Central America, and others.

While DOJ/DHS focused exchanges based on specific regional/bilateral drug/criminal incidents with Mexico, Colombia and others throughout CY2009, there was no concentrated effort (beyond high level bilateral discussions) during President Obama's "first year" in office to develop a new USA/Latin America/Caribbean "hemispheric pact" to combat organized crime, drug trafficking or cross-border gang activity.

This promise was not fulfilled.
0.00
JU-19
The Promise: "...signing a law that would authorize federal magistrates to preside over drug courts and federal probation officers to oversee the offenders'compliance with drug treatment programs. They will ensure that our federal courts and probation offices have adequate resources to deal with this new program."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Creating Equal Opportunity and Justice For All", dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://my.ofa.us/page/-/HQpress/Fact%20Sheet%20Howard%20Convocation%20FINAL%20IH.pdf
Status:The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1994 authorized the Attorney General to make grants to state and local governments to establish drug courts.

Attempts to federalize drug courts go back to at least CY2000 (106th Congress, S. 3191) but never passed either the Senate or the House.

In a 06/06 DOJ document entitled "Report to Congress on the Feasibility of Federal Drug Courts," the DOJ concluded that the establishment of such courts was not feasible. The rationale for this conclusion:
(1) There are already substantial programs that help federal offenders overcome their substance abuse problems during the pretrial, incarceration, and supervised release phases of their cases.
(2) The majority of drug offenders in the federal criminal system have committed serious drug trafficking offenses and are not amenable to, or eligible for, drug-court-type programs.
(3) The diversion of prosecutorial and financial resources necessary to create and maintain a federal drug court program would harm efforts to target drug traffickers and other serious offenders and reduce funds available to existing state drug court programs.

Nonetheless, when President Obama assumed the presidency in 01/09, among the nearly 3,000 drug courts in the nation at the time, 30 Federal reentry courts already existed. These Federal Drug Courts have programs for federal offenders with documented substance abuse problems who are on supervised release in the community and who volunteer to join the program.

The bottom line is that during President Obama's two terms in office, no new law was enacted to authorize federal magistrates to preside over drug courts. Some would argue that none was needed.

This promise was not fulfilled.
0.00
JU-20
The Promise: "...will create a prison-to-work incentive program, modeled on the Welfare-to-Work Partnership, to create ties with employers, third-party agencies that provide training and support services to ex-offenders, and to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Creating Equal Opportunity and Justice For All", dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://my.ofa.us/page/-/HQpress/Fact%20Sheet%20Howard%20Convocation%20FINAL%20IH.pdf
Status:The "Federal Prison Work Incentive Act of 2009" (H.R. 1475) introduced by Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) on 03/12/09, although not directly related, could have been used as a vehicle to address the provisions of this promise as regards the transition of an ex-offender from prison to mainstream society -- but wasn't. This bill died when the 111th Congress adjourned at the end of CY2010.

The "Prisoner Incentive Act of 2011" (H.R. 2344) introduced by Congressman Robert Scott (D-VA) on 06/23/11 also could have been used as a vehicle to address a prison-to-work incentive program. It wasn't.

To his credit, President Obama's FY2011 budget proposal provided $144M for prisoner re-entry programs, including $100M for the Office of Justice Programs to administer grant programs authorized by the "Second Chance Act of 2007," signed into law by President Bush on 04/09/08.

However, no prison-to-work incentive program modeled on the Welfare-to-Work Partnership was created during President Obama's two terms in office.

This promise was not fulfilled.
0.00
JU-21
The Promise: "Senator Obama co-sponsored and helped reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Reauthorized in January 2006, the bill provides funds to help communities, nonprofit organizations and police combat domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The legislation also establishes a sexual assault services program and provides education grants to prevent domestic violence. As president, Obama will fully fund and implement VAWA."
When/Where: Obama Plan: "Ending Violence Against Women and Children" dated 10/31/07.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/d0739d3f67e3c0896f_b2m6bn9dz.pdf
Status:The FY2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law by President Obama on 12/16/09 provided $444.5M to the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) for the VAWA program. In addition, the law provided $181.4M to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for domestic violence programs. $415.5M was the enacted amount for OVW activities in FY2010.

For FY2011, President Obama's budget submission included $457M for VAWA (plus $192.3M for HHS domestic violence programs). Under Continuing Resolution procedures, $418.5M was appropriated for OVW for FY2011.

On 11/30/11, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the "Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011" (S. 1925). This bill passed the Senate on 04/26/12, but did not pass the House as of end-CY2012 when the 112th Congress expired.

Nonetheless, for FY2012, the OVW was funded at the $412.5M level against the President's request for $431.7M, an amount President Obama requested again for FY2013.

On 01/22/13, Senator Leahy reintroduced his bill as the "Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013" (S. 47). This bill passed the Senate in a 78 to 22 vote on 02/12/13, authorizing $659M for VAWA related programs. This bill was signed into law by President Obama on 03/07/13.

This promise was fulfilled.
1.00
JU-22
The Promise: "...will give first-time, nonviolent drug offenders a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug-rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior."
When/Where: Candidate Obama Speech, Howard University Convocation, 09/28/07.
Source: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=77014
Status:The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (S. 1789) was signed into law by President Obama on 08/03/10. This would have been a perfect opportunity to define revised sentencing procedures for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders. This did not happen.

As of end-CY2016, the tail end of President Obama's two terms in office, minimum mandatory sentences and/or sentencing guidelines were in effect at both the Federal and State levels and most involved incarceration for varying periods of time for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders.

This promise was not fulfilled.
0.00
JU-23
The Promise: "...will also repeal the mandatory minimum sentence for firsttime offenders convicted of simple possession of crack, as crack is the only drug that a non-violent first-time offender can receive a mandatory minimum sentence for possessing."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Creating Equal Opportunity and Justice For All", dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://my.ofa.us/page/-/HQpress/Fact%20Sheet%20Howard%20Convocation%20FINAL%20IH.pdf
Status:Prior to 08/10, a person convicted of possessing five grams of crack cocaine received a mandatory five year prison sentence.

President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (S. 1789) into law on 08/03/10. This law repealed the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack as required by Section 401(a) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 844(a)).

This promise was fulfilled.
1.00
JU-24
The Promise: "...supports tough penalties, increased enforcement resources and forensic tools for law enforcement, and collaboration between law enforcement and the private sector to identify and prosecute people who abuse the Internet to try to exploit children."
When/Where: Obama Plan: "Connecting and Empowering All Americans Through Technology and Innovation" dated 11/13/07.
Source: https://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2009/04/obamatechplan.pdf
Status:The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) was enacted on 10/21/98, during the Clinton Administration. Its stated purpose was to restrict access by minors to any material defined as harmful to such minors on the Internet. The law, however, never took effect, as three separate rounds of litigation (including U.S. Supreme Court review without action) led to a permanent injunction against the law on 01/21/09, one day after President Obama's first inauguration.

Under Title 18, Part I, Chapter 110, Section 2251 of the U.S. Code, first violators of sexual exploitation of children are subject to not less than 15 years of imprisonment. Persons with a previous conviction of aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, abusive sexual contact involving a minor, sex trafficking of children, or the production, possession, receipt, mailing, sale, distribution, shipment, or transportation of child pornography shall be fined and imprisoned for not less than 25 years. Persons with two or more prior convictions shall be fined and imprisoned for not less than 35 years.

To strengthen the above law, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the "Child Protection Act of 2012" (S. 3456) on 07/30/12 pertaining to child pornography and child exploitation offenses. This bill specifically addressed tougher penalties than those articulated in Title 18 above. In fact, it addressed the penalty for pornography (any visual depiction or imagery) involving prepubescent or minors younger than 12 years of age as being "fined...and imprisoned for not more than 20 years...," more than the requirement addressed in Title 18 for first-time offenders.

The above bill (S. 3456) was incorporated 100% into the House version of the "Child Protection Act of 2012" (H.R. 6063) introduced by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) on 06/29/12 and signed into law by President Obama on 12/07/12. Referred to as Public Law (P.L.) 112-206, this law also incorporates relevant portions of the "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011" (H.R. 1981 and S. 1308).

The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program helps state and local law enforcement agencies develop an effective response to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and Internet crimes against children. The ICAC program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 3,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are engaged in both proactive and reactive investigations, forensic investigations, and criminal prosecutions. With increased funding to help state and local agencies to develop effective responses to online child victimization, including responses to the online sharing of child sexual abuse images, the DOJ's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has increased the capacity of thousands of communities across the country to combat Internet crimes against children.

During the 6-year period FY2003-FY2008, the ICAC Task Force was funded at an average of $13.9M per annum. Under President Obama and buttressed by a $50M plus-up under the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009," the average funding of the ICAC Task Force over the 6-year period FY2009-FY2014 was $35.4M per annum, settling at the $27M per annum level starting in FY2014, more than twice the average per annum ICAC funding during the Bush Administration.

This promise was fulfilled.
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