No surprises here: Jeff Sessions is moving forward with his plans to toughen rules on prosecuting drug crimes. This move will only serve to rollback some of the progress the Obama administration made toward directing prosecutors away from federal mandatory minimums and imposing harsh sentences for minor drug cases. Though it didn’t stop the mass incarceration of black and brown people, it marked the first decline of the federal prison population in a decade and it was certainly a step in the right direction. But being the good old boy and white supremacist that he is, Jeff wasn’t satisfied with Obama’s progress. Instead, he came up with his very own plan to revive the war on drugs and craft tougher sentencing policy.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to soon toughen rules on prosecuting drug crimes, according to people familiar with internal deliberations, in what would be a major rollback of Obama-era policies that would put his first big stamp on a Justice Department he has criticized as soft on crime. [...]
Current and former government officials have said for weeks that Mr. Sessions’s new policy could come at any time. They said Tuesday that they expected to see it finalized shortly, and Mr. Sessions himself has foreshadowed the announcement this year, calling for a return to tougher federal charging policies in speeches and issuing memos telling prosecutors to anticipate policy shifts.
If you look at the differences between the current attorney general (Sessions) and previous one (Eric Holder), and their views on the criminal justice system, they are stark—to say the least. In 2013, Holder directed federal prosecutors to avoid mandatory minimums, suggesting that in certain cases it might be appropriate to omit details about drug quantities from charging documents so as not to automatically prompt harsh penalties for offenders.
“We must ensure that our most severe mandatory minimum penalties are reserved for serious, high-level, or violent drug traffickers,” he wrote in 2013. “Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for truly no good law enforcement reason.”
But not Ol’ Jeff. Jeff is strictly of the law-and-order variety and wants to lock everybody up. Not to mention how Trump and his very rich friends make a killing off of private and for-profit prisons.
Mr. Sessions has argued that the Obama administration’s less aggressive approach toward prosecuting drug cases has inspired other crimes.
“Many violent crimes are driven by drug trafficking and drug trafficking organizations,” he wrote in a March 8 memo that underscored his scrutiny of the issue.
“We do have strong evidence that aggressive prosecutions of federal laws can be effective in combating crime,” he wrote, attributing a rise in the number of murders in the United States to a decline in prosecutions for violent crimes. “Our department’s experience over decades shows these prosecutions can help save lives.”
The small bit of good news here is that no matter how Sessions instructs prosecutors to pursue drug charges and sentences, they do have their own discretion in dealing with cases. And again, this is not at all a shock given what we know about Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump and their racism and using the criminal justice system to lock up even more black and brown people. One small potential silver lining: this administration doesn’t seem to be great at multi-tasking. Perhaps since now that Sessions has an FBI scandal to worry about as well, in all the fiasco, maybe he will forget about this part of his nefarious plan. Of course, this is likely wishful thinking. Since he doesn’t want anyone looking into his own collusion with Russia as well, and will do anything to deflect attention, we must remain as vigilant as possible.