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Renewing the drug war?

Disturbing piece in the Washington post by Sari Horwitz: How Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the war on drugs

This article focuses not just on Sessions, but also Stephen Cook.

Steven H. Cook, a former street cop who became a federal prosecutor based in Knoxville, Tenn., saw nothing wrong with how the system worked — not the life sentences for drug charges, not the huge growth of the prison population. And he went everywhere — Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News, congressional hearings, public panels — to spread a different gospel.

“The federal criminal justice system simply is not broken. In fact, it’s working exactly as designed,” Cook said at a criminal justice panel at The Washington Post last year. […]

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has brought Cook into his inner circle at the Justice Department, appointing him to be one of his top lieutenants to help undo the criminal justice policies of Obama and former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. As Sessions has traveled to different cities to preach his tough-on-crime philosophy, Cook has been at his side.

Sessions has yet to announce specific policy changes, but Cook’s new perch speaks volumes about where the Justice Department is headed.

I would like to believe that we have accomplished enough in recent years in a bipartisan effort to increase awareness of the need for criminal justice reform and to point out the destructive aspects of the war on drugs that simply putting people like Sessions and Cook in power wouldn’t be enough to undo that work.

But it makes it clear, unfortunately, that we can’t assume progress will continue uninterrupted.

“If there was a flickering candle of hope that remained for sentencing reform, Cook’s appointment was a fire hose,” said Ring, of FAMM. “There simply aren’t enough backhoes to build all the prisons it would take to realize Steve Cook’s vision for America.”

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8 comments to Renewing the drug war?

  • Servetus

    Steven H. Cook is absolutely convinced drugs and violence are inseparable, that extreme measures targeting drug offenders work to reduce violent crime. His approach to drug crimes makes him resemble an apostle of Bill Bennett and Bennett’s superpredator meme:

    Cook, a former police officer, has worked for 30 years as a prosecutor. He currently is chief of the criminal division of the U.S. attorney’s office in Knoxville. But he has taken vacation time to lobby against sentencing reform measures backed by his boss, President Barack Obama.[…]

    He calls a “myth” the idea that most offenders in federal prisons are nonviolent drug pushers and says racial bias plays no role in who gets federally prosecuted.[…]

    http://archive.knoxnews.com/news/crime-courts/knoxville-federal-prosecutor-battling-in-congress-against-sentencing-reform-3117e459-ec3e-1d89-e053–376797231.html

    Like Antonin Scalia, Steven Cook is a member of the Federalist Society, an organization whose legal philosophy is unabashedly fixated on Scalia’s originalism: …it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.

    Other Supreme Court Federalist members include Thomas, Alito, Roberts, and Neil Gorsuch, who some say “Was Hatched in a Federalist Society Lab”.

    Federalists and assistant federal prosecutors are attracted to drug prosecutions like moths to a flame. They never seem to learn, despite charring their wings. Thirty years ago it might have been possible to build a political career on the back of drug prosecutions, but no more.

  • PillheadsOfContusion

    Canadians will get their first look at the Liberal vision for legalized marijuana on Thursday, CBC News has confirmed.

    A senior government source said the proposed federal legislation to legalize and regulate the drug will be tabled in the House of Commons then.

    The Globe and Mail reported the date earlier Monday.

    As CBC News has reported, the Trudeau government’s goal is make legalization a reality in Canada on or before July 1, 2018.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/marijuana-legalization-plan-to-be-released-thursday-1.4061517

  • Servetus

    AG Jeff Sessions and his sidekick Steven Cook are refusing to let science stand in the way of incarceration. Sessions is creating a non-justice department by excluding the National Commission on Forensic Science, an agency funded to enable independent scientists to study and counter forensic laboratory methods or problems that might lead to false criminal convictions:

    “The reliance of law enforcement on questionable science and the overstatement of the reliability of that science has been a leading cause of the wrongful conviction of innocent people,” said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) president Barry Pollack on Monday. “The reason the National Commission on Forensic Science has been so important is that it includes leading independent scientists, allowing an unbiased expert evaluation of which techniques are scientifically valid and which are not. NACDL is terribly disappointed that even while acknowledging the crucial role played by the National Commission on Forensic Science, the Attorney General has chosen to disband it.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/04/10/trump-administrations-war-science-reaches-justice-department

    • jean valjean

      “AG Jeff Sessions and his sidekick Steven Cook are refusing to let science stand in the way of incarceration.”

      The Catholic church and Galileo come to mind

  • DdC

    How can reducing incarceration make communities safer?
    https://www.facebook.com/LawEnforcementAction
    If we want to get serious about public safety in America, we need to reduce incarceration and criminalization.

    This Wednesday at 9am PT/12pm ET, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership will host a Facebook Live event addressing why America’s prison population has ballooned from less than half a million in 1980 to over 2.2 million today, and how sensible changes to criminal statutes can reduce that number significantly – making our communities safer in the process.

    Join the discussion at http://www.Facebook.com/LawEnforcementAction on Wednesay, April 12, at 9am PT/12pm ET to learn and plan for action together!

    In solidarity,

    Major Neill Franklin (Ret.)
    Executive Director