Sessions: Case of Central Park 5, later exonerated, shows Trump's dedication to 'law and order'

Central Park Five: We finally got justice
Central Park Five: We finally got justice

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Central Park Five: We finally got justice 02:46

Story highlights

  • Jeff Sessions cited an ad Donald Trump took out calling for the death penalty in the Central Park 5 case
  • Sessions made the remarks in a radio interview Thursday

(CNN)Sen. Jeff Sessions said Thursday that Donald Trump's 1989 campaign to bring back the death penalty for the "Central Park Five" shows the Republican nominee is serious about "law and order," though all five of the men convicted in that crime were eventually exonerated.

"Trump has always been this way," Sessions told WAPI radio in Alabama. "People say he wasn't a conservative, but he bought an ad 20 years ago in The New York Times calling for the death penalty. How many people in New York, that liberal bastion, were willing to do something like that?"
    Better known then as a construction magnate and socialite, Trump bought space in multiple New York City newspapers calling for the execution of the five black and Hispanic teens accused of raping a jogger in Central Park. The full page ads read, "Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!"
    The men, all between the ages of 14 and 16 at the time of the attack, were convicted in a pair of trials in 1990.
    But more than a decade later, serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes came forward and confessed to the crime.
    An examination of the evidence, including DNA samples, confirmed that he had acted alone. The "Central Park Five" were exonerated and in 2014, awarded a $41 million settlement.
    "He believes in law and order and he has the strength and will to make this country safer," Sessions continued, in an interview first surfaced by BuzzFeed. "And the biggest benefits from that, really, are poor people in the neighborhoods that are most dangerous where most of the crime is occurring. And I think people can come to understand that if the message continues to pound away."
    As the negotiations neared a close, Trump wrote an op-ed in the New York Daily News calling the terms a "disgrace."
    "Forty million dollars is a lot of money for the taxpayers of New York to pay when we are already the highest taxed city and state in the country," he wrote. "The recipients must be laughing out loud at the stupidity of the city."