The Overgrown and others have reported on how Attorney General Jeff Sessions was primed to roll-back criminal justice reforms, let police departments govern themselves, restart the private prison system and the war on drugs and increase the detention of legal and illegal immigrants. And now, it’s all happening.
The war on drugs has been a monumental failure that only succeeded in creating a system of mass incarceration that disproportionally imprisons minorities and those on the low end of the economic spectrum. The drug addiction rate has not decreased, even as our spending has increased exponentially.
One has to be aggressively obtuse to think these data support continuing this program. And yet Sessions restarted the private prison program and yesterday released a memo directing prosecutors to charge the “most serious and readily provable offense.” This is a direct rollback from the Obama era which sought to decrease the severity of charges for low-level drug crimes.
Our incarceration rate is the highest in the world by a significant margin, and that includes outright autocratic regimes.
Here are some numbers courtesy of PrisonStudies.org:
Incarceration is big business in the United States, and Jeff Sessions is particularly familiar with the private system. He has continually defended the use of private prisons, and two of his former aides are now lobbyists for one of the largest private prison corporations in the country, GEO Group. It’s also worth noting that GEO Group donated $250k for Trump’s inauguration.
Research shows that private prisons are overcrowded, understaffed and are often inhumane epicenters of abuse. Obama began to phase out the use of private facilities, but Sessions has reversed course entirely.
There’s no need to sugarcoat any of this anymore. Jeff Sessions is an ignorant monster.
He does not care about research, or about the treatment of prisoners, or rehabilitation, or about the rampant injustices interwoven into our criminal justice system. He just bolstered the private system, and now he needs to fill it up. And fill it he will, with black kids, and immigrants and poor people pushing a substance that will likely be legalized within their lifetime.
Our prison system became an enormous, swirling shit-show as a result of the war on drugs. As we continued to double-down on failed policies, the amount of drug usage remained constant, while the prisons began to overflow with non-violent offenders.
The war on drugs has been never been applied equally, it was designed from the very beginning by Richard Nixon to target poor, African American communities. Recently, before Trump, it seemed as though, after multiple decades, there was finally bipartisan consensus on the war on drugs being a failure. But now, with Sessions at the helm, our criminal justice system is destined to circle back once again.
This issue is far beyond policy differences at this point. Continuing along this path is inexcusable. This level of regression is simply appalling. The wildly over-used, pop definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
One would think, then, that Jeff Sessions is clearly insane. But he’s not. He doesn’t expect different results here. He’s perfectly happy with the old results. He’s fine with locking up non-violent offenders for obscenely long amounts of time in facilities that are vile and inhumane. He’s not insane, he’s just a monster.
by Jesse Mechanic
Jesse Mechanic is the editor in chief of The Overgrown.