Wednesday, 23 August, 2017

AG Sessions Pledges Redoubled War on Drugs

Attorney General Jeff Sessions makes opening remarks during a Drug Enforcement Administration 360 Heroin and Opioid Response Summit at the University of Charleston Thursday AG Sessions Pledges Redoubled War on Drugs
Roland Mccarthy | 15 May, 2017, 00:14

Attorney General Jeff Sessions just reminded the country that he wants the failed War on Drugs to be the centerpiece of his Justice Department policy.

"This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency", Sessions wrote in a memo to USA attorneys made public early Friday. "You collect it by the barrel of a gun".

"If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way", Sessions said Friday at the Justice Department.

"We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple", Sessions said in a speech announcing the change.

Sessions contends a spike in violence in some big cities and the nation's opioid epidemic show the need for a return to tougher tactics.

Officials say Holder's "Smart on Crime" policy "convoluted the process", and left prosecutors applying the law unevenly, which they said "is not Justice". In a response to Mr. Sessions's move obtained by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Mr. Holder noted on Friday that federal prosecutors focused on "more serious drug cases" after his policy took effect.

The 94 USA attorneys were instructed in the memo to "charge and pursue the most serious and readily provable offense". The memo concedes there will be cases in which "good judgment" will warrant a prosecutor to veer from that rule. Paul strongly opposed the Department of Justice directive, which reverses an Obama-era policy that prescribed leniency for nonviolent, low-level drug offenders. African Americans are four times as likely as whites to be arrested for drug offenses despite the fact that whites and blacks use drugs at roughly the same rate and that people who buy drugs usually purchase them from sellers of their own racial or ethnic background.

"These reversals will be both substantively and financially ruinous, setting the Department back on a track to again spending one third of its budget on incarcerating people, rather than preventing, detecting, or investigating crime" Holder said of Sessions's decision in a statement on Friday. "It is an ideologically motivated, cookie-cutter approach that has only been proven to generate unfairly long sentences that are often applied indiscriminately and do little to achieve long-term public safety". Combined, those changes led to a steep decline in a federal prison population that now stands at just under 190,000, down from almost 220,000 in 2013. "Is he also asking for the most serious charges there?"

The Obama policy shift coincided with U.S. Sentencing Commission changes that made tens of thousands of federal drug prisoners eligible for early release, and an Obama administration clemency initiative that freed convicts deemed deserving of a second chance.

The new policy is expected to lead to more federal prosecutions and an increase in the federal prison population.

"There was a real momentum for a time, and I think it's safe to say it's dead now, toward a broader criminal justice reform effort, and that was a bipartisan effort", Harvey said. Growing political and public hysteria had emerged with the introduction of crack cocaine into urban communities, leading to the adoption of harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drugs and their increased prioritization by prosecutors. "They deserve to be unhandcuffed and not micro-managed from Washington".

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