Guess who Sessions’ war on drugs will target?
Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 5/18/2017, 6 a.m.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions made it official. The federal government will now reboot its war on drugs. The official word came down in the form of memos from Sessions that ordered federal prosecutors to cease and desist on the soft approach former Attorney General Eric Holder took toward prosecuting petty drug offenders. Now prosecutors must demand the harshest sentence, must use the threat to harshly pile on sentence enhancements to browbeat drug offenders into copping a guilty plea, and they must itemize the drugs an offender uses to insure they are slapped with the minimum mandatory sentence.
Sessions isn’t just talking about cracking down on the use of the hard stuff. He has a near paranoid obsession with pot. He has railed against its use, thinks it’s one of the worst drug evils, and is convinced it is undermining the nation’s morals. Sessions has long chomped at the bit to cop the title as America’s number one drug warrior. He took giddy delight as a federal prosecutor and a U.S. Attorney in putting the hammer to drug offenders whenever he could. Sessions would likely scoff at the frank admission by disgraced Nixon White House advisor John Ehrlichman, in an interview in Harpers in 1994, that the war on drugs was not about law enforcement getting a handle on drug sales and use, but another weapon to lock up as many blacks as possible.
From its inception in the 1970s, the war on drugs has been a ruthless, relentless and naked war on minorities, especially African-Americans. Former President Obama and Holder got that. And they made it clear that it was time to rethink how the war was being fought and who its prime casualties have been. 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. Congress didn’t finish the job and as long as Sessions is in the driver’s seat at the Justice Department it won’t. The Obama and Holder reforms in low-level drug prosecutions did produce positive and dramatic results. The number of minimum mandatory sentences imposed plunged, and there was much more reliance on drug counseling and diversion programs for petty offenders.
You can kiss that good-bye with Sessions. Even though countless surveys have found that whites and blacks use drugs in about the same rate, more than 70 percent of those prosecuted in federal courts for drug possession and sale (mostly small amounts of crack cocaine) and given stiff mandatory sentences are blacks. Most those who deal and use crack cocaine aren’t violent prone gang members, but poor, and increasingly female, young blacks. They clearly need treatment, not long prison stretches. Obama and Holder understood that.
The federal war on drugs before Obama and Holder, now reignited under Sessions, targeted blacks for a good reason. The top-heavy drug use by young whites — and the crime and violence that go with it — has never stirred any public outcry for mass arrests, prosecutions, and tough prison sentences for white drug dealers, many of whom deal drugs that are directly linked to serious crime and violence. Whites unlucky enough to get popped for drug possession are treated with compassion, prayer sessions, expensive psychiatric counseling, treatment and rehab programs and drug diversion programs.