Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales visited Des Moines today to talk about the program to catch those who prey on children via the internet. Gonzales says the Project Safe Childhood program led to 1,139 arrests of on-line predators in the first half 2007. He says that’s increase of nearly 20-percent over the number of arrests during the same period in 2006. Gonzales says they’re on a pace to show a nearly 25-percent increase in on-line prosecutions.
Gonzales says they’re not only making arrests, they’re also getting convictions. He says nearly 60-percent of those convicted in federal court in 2007 have been sentenced to at least five years and 11 were sentenced to life in prison. Gonzales says that makes the streets safer for kids. Gonzales says the Project Safe Childhood program has given federal, state and local officials the tools they need to go after the on-line predators.
Gonzales says they have more resources, they’re better coordinated, and the joint efforts at all levels make them more effective in making arrests and prosecution of the cases. Gonzales says it was an important trip, even though he is leaving his office. He says the visit had been on his schedule for some time and he didn’t want to cancel it, because he’d never been to Iowa before and wanted to keep the appointment.
Gonzales was asked about his feelings as he leaves the post. Gonzales responded that he leaves with a great deal of pride as he says it’s a great privilege to serve and there are sometimes tough decisions, "but I think we’ve done a lot goods things." He cited the infrastructure to protect kids, preventing another terrorist attack, and protecting neighborhoods from violent gangs as example of the good things his office has accomplished.
Gonzales was also asked if he had any regrets. "Well, of course, we’re all human, and all of us make mistakes," Gonzales says, "and the thing that’s important is to identify when those mistakes are made, acknowledge the mistakes, correct the mistakes and then you move on, and that’s what I’ve endeavored to do as Attorney General." Gonzales met with the U.S. attorneys from Iowa’s northern and southern districts, and local and state law enforcement officials during his stop.