RealNews

Study: Terror-Related Cases Often Fizzle

The Justice Department has sharply increased prosecution of terrorism-related cases since the Sept. 11 attacks, but many fizzled and few produced significant prison time, a study released Sunday finds. About 6,400 people were referred by investigators for criminal charges involving terror in the two years after the attacks, but fewer than one-third actually were charged and only 879 were convicted, according to government records reviewed by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. The median prison sentence was just 14 days, according to a study by clearinghouse co-directors David Burnham and Susan P. Long. Only five people were sentenced to 20 years or more. Critics seized on the numbers to question whether Attorney General John Ashcroft and other top law enforcement officials have been overstating the success of their anti-terrorism efforts. Nearly every time Ashcroft talks about the subject, he reads a long list of statistics on arrests and convictions to buttress his contention that great progress is being made. Full Story

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