Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Sessions Reinforces Mandatory Minimums in War on Drugs

Sessions Reinforces Mandatory Minimums in War on Drugs

Right after I graduated college something happened to me that has happened to many other Latino men - my brother and I were pulled over by the police in broad daylight. My vehicle was turned inside out without reason. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.

"An outgrowth of the failed War on Drugs, mandatory sentencing strips critical public safety resources away from law enforcement strategies that actually make our communities safer", said Sen.

Clearly, somebody didn't get the word to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who last week took an enormous step back toward 1980s thinking with his eight-paragraph instruction to federal prosecutors to seek the most severe penalties possible against anyone in the drug trade under federal mandatory minimum sentencing requirements.

"While I don't believe in legalizing all drugs - as a career prosecutor I just don't - we need to do the smart thing, the right thing, and finally decriminalize marijuana", Harris said. Is it making our community safer?

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Though the Department of Justice's roll-back of 2013 rules calling on more lenient sentences for low-level drug offenders went by mostly unnoticed, Senator Rand Paul spoke out late last week about the regressive new policy. Now in Congress, I am proud to be part of a bipartisan group of members of Congress that are working to improve our justice system. They pushed hard to get Congress to wipe out a good deal of the blatantly racially-skewed harsh drug sentencing for crack versus powder cocaine possession and to eliminate minimum mandatory sentencing. By encouraging prosecutors to focus their efforts on the most serious drug offenders, Holder may have indirectly reduced punishment by allowing some people to avoid federal charges altogether.

In this op-ed, writer Lincoln Blades explains why mandatory minimum drug sentences are a racist practice.

Congressman Scott Taylor and Congressman Bobby Scott are calling on Attorney General Sessions to rethink his current stance. We spend $34,000 a year to imprison a single inmate, an annual total of $7.5 billion on just the federal prison population. The memo returns the Justice Department to a sentencing approach similar to the one taken by the George W. Bush Administration. Sessions's directive will mean that more young adults will face longer sentences and fewer opportunities for a second chance upon reentry. That was the case for an African American teen who was sentenced to ten years in prison for being caught in a auto that had drugs in it. Mass incarceration tears families apart, and children of incarcerated parents have a harder time navigating a path to adulthood - something that carries great individual cost to those children and their families, as well as significant social and fiscal costs for our nation.

"The real important question is: How does it impact our communities?" Studies show while five times as many whites used drugs as blacks in the United States, blacks were sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of whites.

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The Drug Policy Alliance has been at the forefront of reforming criminal justice and so has the American Civil Liberties Union, which says stocks for private prisons skyrocketed the day after the presidential election.

"What they think is tough on crime, but it really isn't". This cost has skyrocketed from 1980, when we spent $330 million on federal prisons, more than a 2,000% increase. "Congress can reverse these actions by enacting the criminal justice reform measures that were being considered as late as past year and that had the support of Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and progressives". We can and must do better.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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Mr Ryan said Congress needs to get the facts, but "it is obvious there are some people out there who want to harm the president". The memo's existence was first reported Tuesday by The New York Times and was confirmed by Fox News Wednesday.


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