Apart from being an irrational anti-pot fanatic, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is functioning in a highly unstable government, which is obsessed with methodically dismantling anything and everything that has the slightest hint of President Barack Obama.
One late night comedian joked that if Trump could revive all the turkeys Obama pardoned over the years, he would. It’s that bad.
Now, AG Sessions has decided to review Obama-era policies that eliminated harsh punishments for low-level drug crimes.
Sessions’ directive, to be introduced in a memo, will encourage prosecutors to charge people with the most serious, provable offenses in order to trigger mandatory minimum sentences.
Reminder: Mandatory minimum sentencing requires binding, inflexible, “one-size-fits-all” prison terms of a particular length for people convicted of certain federal and state crimes. This draconian system prevents judges from fitting the punishment to the individual or the circumstances of their offenses.
Under Obama, then Attorney General Eric Holder had instructed prosecutors to avoid charging low-level drug defendants as a way of reducing the federal prison population and reshaping the criminal justice system. In other words, not using mandatory minimum sentencing.
Sessions is now considering directing his prosecutors to rekindle this process against drug traffickers, whether they are low-level defendants or not, according to officials who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity.
If we think we have a problem with mass incarceration now, which we do, imagine our prison population in a few years?
Hence, Trump’s immediate overturning of Obama’s plan to phase out the federal government’s use of private prisons; our new president totally supports private prisons, and they love him right back. Private prison stocks jumped 100 percent after Trump was elected.
The simple fact that Sessions has seen fit to announce that these new (actually old) instructions are being considered indicate that the Trump administration is heading straight back to the worst days of the failed War on Drugs.
Sessions also may allow prosecutors to use more “enhancements,” which make prison sentences even longer. Eric Holder had told prosecutors back in 2013 to stop using enhancements, so of course, Trumpism is reviving them.
An enhancement is when prosecutors coerce defendants to cop a plea. A Human Rights Watch report found that federal drug defendants who take their case to trial spend three times longer in prison than those who take a plea deal.
The figures are staggering: some 97 percent of defendants in drug cases plead guilty.
So, hang on to your hats.
The Trump administration, through Jeff Sessions, wants to put more and more people behind bars. Time to call your congressperson and let them you don’t agree with a renewed War on Drugs.