George W. Bush declared a War on Terror. Trump has declared a War on Truth, and perhaps a broader War on Intellect. Now, NBC News reports that Trump’s administration is breathing life into an old favorite of clueless Republicans: the War on Drugs.
Today, Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to pursue the maximum punishment for drug-related crimes.
The move is a stark departure from Obama era policy. The former president sought more just implementation of drug laws, specifically aiming to reduce jail time for lesser crimes.
The Washington Times reports that Obama’s former Attorney General, Eric Holder, had harsh words for Sessions’s decision, calling it “unwise and ill-informed.”
“It ignores a rare bipartisan political consensus that has formed around sentencing reform effort and will take this nation back to a discredited past,” Holder said. Far from being tough on crime, Holder said Sessions is being “dumb on crime.” He wasn’t done there:
“Abandoning this evidence-based progress and turning back the clock to a discredited, emotionally motivated, ideological policy also threatens the financial stability of the federal criminal justice system. These reversals will be both substantively and financially ruinous, setting the Department back on a track to again spending one third of its budget on incarcerating people, rather than preventing, detecting, or investigating crime.”
Sessions has long been regressive on drug issue. In the past, he childishly stated that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Unfortunately for him, most Americans disagree. According to a Gallup poll 60% of Americans support legalization of marijuana. Sessions is out of touch and ideologically primitive.
Jailing Americans for extended periods of time for drug crimes hurts them and helps no one. These individuals often end up institutionalized, and find it difficult to return to society as contributing members after their incarceration. Their imprisonment can derail their futures as they discover that the only work they can find post-prison is criminal, which eventually sends them back to prison, creating a terrible feedback loop.
According to drugpolicy.org the U.S. wastes $51,000,000,000 annually waging the War on Drugs. In 2015 alone, 574,641 people were arrested for possession of marijuana. 1 in 11 Americans is locked up, the highest rate in the world.
Sessions has instituted a disgusting, draconian policy. Private prisons, a morally repugnant concept, have seen a 100% rise in stocks since Trump took office. These prisons make a profit off de facto enslavement, and they get a lot of their prisoners through drug-related crimes. By issuing this memo, Sessions just gave a huge, immoral gift to the private prison industrial complex.
The sad truth is that it’s perfectly within his power and rights for Sessions to make this announcement. The comforting truth is that we can vote Republicans out in the next election, and inject some sanity and morality back into our government.
Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.