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June 20, 2017

Intricate disputation of AG Sessions' recent defense of his new tougher federal charging/sentencing policy

As noted in this weekend post, the US Attorney General today took the the editorial pages of the Washington Post to make the case for his new tough charging and sentencing guidance for federal prosecutors via this opinion piece.  Today, the Washington Post has this new opinion piece by Radley Balko under the the headline "Here are all the ways Jeff Sessions is wrong about drug sentencing."  

The headline of the Balko piece serves as something of a summary of its contents, which involves an intricate "a line-by-line review" of all the key points made by AG Sessions in his piece.  Rather than try to capture all the particulars of the Balko piece here, I will just quote some of his closing commentary: 

Certainly, drug trafficking lowers the quality of life in a community.  Turf wars between drug gangs can make those communities more dangerous.  But again, Sessions himself concedes that prohibition itself creates these problems.  It’s pretty rare that liquor store employees erupt in gun fights over turf.  And if prohibition begets violence, the only way the solution to an increase in violence can be more prohibition is if the new prohibition wipes out drug trafficking entirely.  Otherwise, more prohibition usually just means more violence.  Knock out one major dealer, and new dealers will emerge and go to war to take his place.

We all know that rescinding the Holder memo isn’t going to end drug trafficking.  It isn’t going to affect the opioid crisis.  It isn’t going to move the needle either way on the violence in Chicago or Baltimore.  The most likely outcome is that a few hundred more nonviolent offenders spend a lot more time in federal prison than they otherwise would have.  I suppose it will also give Sessions the satisfaction of having rolled back one of the few substantive criminal-justice reforms of the Obama administration.  But the crime rate and the violence in America’s cities will rise or fall independent of the Holder memo.

The one thing we can all depend on — the one sure thing: Illicit drugs will continue to be available to pretty much anyone who wants to use them.

Prior recent related post:

AG Jeff Sessions makes the case for his new tougher federal charging/sentencing policy

June 20, 2017 at 02:08 PM | Permalink


I oppose prohibition. Mostly because there is little public support for it. Bill disagreed. However, on his side is this landmark study of Vietnam combat vets. In Vietnam, their rate of opiate addiction went to 15%. Upon return to the US, where it is prohibited, it dropped by 90%. During our Prohibition era, prohibition had no public support and minimal enforcement, Elliott Ness movies notwithstanding. Yet, alcohol consumption dropped by a half. The consequence of alcohol abuse also dropped by that fraction, and the 1920's was a boom time, with a lower overall crime rate. Prohibition has historical support, even when mismanaged.

Posted by: David Behar | Jun 20, 2017 2:21:14 PM

If anyone has beem watching the series "war on drugs", you would think the feds are responsinle 100% for the crack epidemic, along with freeway Rick.

Who knows how much is factual, but the feds looked awfully bad.

Why bother having a fedral court for drugs. At least thats the slant.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Jun 21, 2017 10:09:37 PM

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