When you fight crime you have to fight it where it is, and you may have at some point an impact of a racial nature that we hate to see. But if it’s done properly it’s the right thing.
So were the words of Jeff Beauregard Sessions III, the 84th Attorney General of these United States on March 15 of this year. He spoke those words to a room full of police officers in Virginia and with those words, effectively ended the bipartisan truce on the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ made famous by presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton continued this nefarious war with the signing of his 1994 Crime Bill.
In recent years, and in light of its total lack of usefulness as a deterrent and effectiveness as tool of rehabilitation, a bipartisan effort has been mounted to reform U.S. Sentencing Laws and outright do away with Mandatory Minimum Sentencing effectively snatched sentencing discretion from judges and placed defendants at the mercy of the unfair and disproportionate sentencing guidelines on the books.
Beginning in the early 80’s and well into the 90’s, drug offenders, in predominately African-American communities, were sentenced to literally decades in prison for being in possession of as little as two ounces of crack cocaine. Whereas, offenders in possession of as much as a kilogram of powder cocaine received as little 6 months to 3 years and in some cases, house arrest. The latter class of drug offender were predominately White Americans.**
Fast forward to today and political luminaries such as Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, prominent republican and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Florida Governor and republican Jeb Bush and many others from both sides of the aisle all agree that the sentencing laws placed into effect as a result of the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ unfairly and disproportionately victimized African-Americans and Hispanics (Click on the names to read their views and read the articles below from leading experts and organizations in the field marked with ** that support the views of this post).
During the last election cycle, just about every candidate involved called for an end to mass incarceration. Businesswoman Carly Fiorina was unapologetic when she inferred that it was a shame that the US currently has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Senator Rand Paul (R) Kentucky, expressed without equivocation his leanings toward more rehabilitation and less incarceration. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called the ‘War on Drugs’ a flat out “failure.”
With hard statistical evidence supporting these views, why exactly is it that Jeff Sessions is so eager to halt the effort of reforming our Criminal Justice System and take us back to the dark days when unfair, racially adverse punishment was acceptable in this country? Well, it was made clear during his confirmation hearings to become AG of the United States that Sessions has a history of racist views. In fact, said views stopped him from becoming a federal judge when President Ronald Reagan nominated him back in 1986. Sessions has said that organizations like the NAACP and ACLU are “un-American” and “Communist-inspired.”
If Jeff Sessions isn’t a racist, well then, he sure has acted a lot like one throughout his career. The policies he seeks to put in place and uphold have destroyed families, housed minorities in prisons all across this country like so much cattle, enriched the private prison industry and decimated the economic hopes who, while they may have run afoul of the law, were handed sentences that were grossly disproportionate to the offenses they committed. This man is a cancer on our society and he is now in the position to do great and grave harm on its citizens. Mobilization of like minds must happen now, our voices must be raised against Jeff Sessions, a public servant who is only out to serve his nefarious and Jim Crow-esque inclinations. He means to commit genocide against this nation’s minority population and we must not falter in standing against it.
** The Politics of Punishment in the War on Drugs: Race & Racial Language in Policy Shifts (University of Washington Research Works)
** Race and the Drug War (Drug Policy.org)
** Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System (Sentencing Project.org)
Think Passionately. Disrupt Strategically.
-A. Lawrence Haskins
United States Congress: (202) 225-3121
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