While U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems to be chomping at the bit to ramp up the drug war in an effort to “make America safe again,” one of the Justice Department’s former enforcers has come out to ensure the nation that his plan is dangerously flawed.
In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who was dismissed by President Donald Trump at the beginning of the year, said Sessions’ dastardly scheme to seek the maximum sentence for people convicted of drug-related crimes is one based on antiquated ideals regurgitated from the 1980s.
She says it would be more effective to maintain the leniency imposed by the Obama administration, as it was one that gave prosecutors some leeway on a case-by-case basis.
Yates, who spent nearly 30 years at the Department of Justice, says Sessions is wrong about the previous administration’s “Smart on Crime” approach to criminal justice causing an increase in violent crime across the country.
“Not only are violent crime rates still at historic lows — nearly half of what they were when I became a federal prosecutor in 1989 — but there is also no evidence that the increase in violent crime some cities have experienced is the result of drug offenders not serving enough time in prison,” she wrote.
“In fact, a recent study by the bipartisan U.S. Sentencing Commission found that drug defendants with shorter sentences were actually slightly less likely to commit crimes when released than those sentenced under older, more severe penalties.”
Yates, a former federal prosecutor, penned her opinion in direct response to an op-ed published last week by Sessions.
In his piece, the Alabama Senator turned Trump’s leading law enforcement hammer said it was absolutely necessary to take a “tough” stance on drug offenders in order to “make American safe again.”
It’s not secret by now that Sessions is no friend to the drug trade – illegal or otherwise.
In his political career, not only has he supported policies that would have made it possible for prosecutors to seek the death penalty for habitual drug offenders, he has also spent the bulk of his time as attorney general trying to mastermind a shutdown of the legal cannabis trade.
It seems there is no stopping him from trying to drag the nation back to a time when federal policy dictated lengthy prison sentences for any of those folks who dared not to “Say No to Drugs.”
It is for that reason that Yates wants the general public to understand that Sessions’s old school combat tactics against the national drug problem is already a failure. These types of idea have not been successful for decades.
“While there is always room to debate the most effective approach to criminal justice, that debate should be based on facts, not fear,” she wrote. “It’s time to move past the campaign-style rhetoric of being ‘tough’ or ‘soft’ on crime. Justice and the safety of our communities depend on it.”
Some of the latest statistics show that the federal prison population increased 700 percent between 1980 and 2013. Yet, despite the United States presently housing 2.4 million drug offenders, there are more drugs pulsing through the country than ever before.
A recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows there is “no statistically significant relationship between states’ drug offender imprisonment rates and three measures of drug problems: rates of illicit use, overdose deaths, and arrests.”
TELL US, has your life been disrupted by the War on Drugs?