Attorney General William P. Barr on Tuesday slammed “rogue DAs” he said are sabotaging the sanctity of the criminal justice system by bringing lesser charges or pleading down cases to keep people out of prison.

Mr. Barr, in a speech to the Major County Sheriffs of America, said the “self-styled ‘social justice’ reformers” are contributing to a recent rise in violent crimes in some of the country’s largest cities, defying an overall nationwide trend toward safety.

The district attorneys “think they are helping people, but they end up hurting them. These policies actually lead to greater criminality,” he said. “By allowing young lawbreakers entirely off the hook the first time — or the second time or even the third time — these DAs are potentially placing them on a conveyor to further and heightened criminality.”

He said bringing accurate charges and pursuing the right cases means some criminals can get intervention early enough to get them off the conveyor.

The attorney general’s broadside comes a day after he warned about a trend in immigration enforcement where “certain district attorneys” have started charging foreign nationals with lesser offenses, hoping to keep them off the Homeland Security’s radar.

“In pursuing their personal ambitions and misguided notions of equal justice, these district attorneys are systematically violating the rule of law and may even be unlawfully discriminating against American citizens,” Mr. Barr said.

On Tuesday, he pointed to a recent case in New York where he said an MS-13 gang member was released under new lenient policies and a witness against the gang was then murdered after the release.

In his remarks, Mr. Barr also cited San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago and Baltimore.

Most of those cities are also among the most aggressive sanctuary jurisdictions protecting illegal immigrants.

Mr. Barr took aim at sanctuaries in his remarks Monday to a broader group of sheriffs, announcing a series of lawsuits asking judges to overturn sanctuary policies in New Jersey and California, as well as one in the Seattle area.

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