FORMER DEPUTY AG SALLY YATES SLAMS SESSIONS’S “GONZO APOCALYPTO” PLAN TO TURN AMERICA INTO “INCARCERATION NATION!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sally-yates-jeff-sessions_us_594eb52ee4b02734df2ac45b

According to this article from HuffPost:

“Sessions has long been a staunch conservative on crime. He once supported legislation in his home state of Alabama that would have required the death penalty for a second drug trafficking conviction, including for marijuana, which is now legalized in a number of states. Before the 2016 election, there was bipartisan agreement from groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Koch Industries, and on Capitol Hill about the need to pursue criminal justice reform. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to advance it.

Yates defended the work of Obama’s Justice Department, saying by allowing prosecutors to use their discretion on sentencing for low-level offenses, officials could dedicate resources to prosecuting the most dangerous individuals.

“Under Smart on Crime, the Justice Department took a more targeted approach, reserving the harshest of those penalties for the most violent and significant drug traffickers and encouraging prosecutors to use their discretion not to seek mandatory minimum sentences for lower-level, nonviolent offenders,” she wrote. “While there is always room to debate the most effective approach to criminal justice, that debate should be based on facts, not fear.”

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Fear and loathing are, of course, key ingredients of the “Gonzo Apocalypto Program.” Let’s see, in Tudor England they publicly hanged, mostly poor, folks for minor crimes; traitors were drawn and quartered; and the upper classes were beheaded for political, offenses, real or imagined. So, given the obvious deterrent effect, crime should have largely disappeared from the Anglo-Saxon heritage. No real historical record that even the most grisly and gruesome punishments had any real deterrent effect, not to mention that justice was often more or less arbitrary and imposed by an entrenched upper class. But, learning from history, or even knowing much about it, is hardly a Trump Administration specialty.

And, the opposite of “Smart” on Crime would be . . . ?

PWS

06-26-17

HuffPost: Sessions Reinstates Dangerous Private Prisons — Health & Safety of Inmates Takes Back Seat to Expediency And Profits For Private Prison Industry!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/doj-private-prisons-sessions_us_58af529ce4b0a8a9b780669a

Ryan J. Reilly a Ben Walsh report:

“WASHINGTON ― Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday withdrew an Obama-era Justice Department memo that set a goal of reducing and ultimately ending the Justice Department’s use of private prisons.

In a one-page memo to the acting head of the Bureau of Prisons, Sessions wrote that the August 2016 memo by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates “changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.”

A Justice Department spokesman said Sessions’ memo “directs the Bureau of Prisons to return to its previous approach to the use of private prisons,” which would “restore BOP’s flexibility to manage the federal prison inmate population based on capacity needs.”

BOP currently has 12 private prison contracts that hold around 21,000 inmates. Yates had said that private prisons compared “poorly” to BOP prisons. Her memo followed a damning report from the Justice Department’s inspector general which found that privately run facilities were more dangerous than those run by BOP.

The two largest private prison companies have told investors that they have room to accommodate increased use of their prisons by federal or state and local authorities. On an earnings call with stock analysts this week, executives at GEO Group emphasized that their company has a total of 5,000 spots in its prisons that are presently either unused or underutilized.

GEO senior vice President David Donahue put it fairly bluntly, telling analysts that their idle and underutilized cells are “immediately available and meet ICE’s national detention standards.”

CoreCivic, formerly known as CCA, told investors on Feb. 17 that the company has nine idle prisons that can hold a total of 8,700 people. Those prisons are ready to accept inmates on short notice. “All of our idle facilities are modern and well maintained, and can be made available to potential state and federal partners without much, if any capital investment or the lead-time required for new construction,” CEO Damon Hininger said.

Indeed, Haninger said that CoreCivic was already holding more detained immigrants for the federal government than they anticipated. “Our financial performance in the fourth quarter of 2016 was well above our initial forecast due, in large part, to heightened utilization by ICE across the portfolio,” he said.

And, Haninger said, the Trump administration’s actions could boost financial performance even further. “When coupled with the above average rate crossings along the Southwest border, these executive orders appear likely to significantly increase the need for safe, humane and appropriate detention bed capacity that we have available in our existing real-estate portfolio,” he said. “We are well positioned,” to get more business from ICE, Haninger said.

David C. Fathi, who directs the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, said that giving for-profit companies control of prisons is “a recipe for abuse and neglect.” He said the Sessions memo was a further sign the U.S. “may be headed for a new federal prison boom” under the Trump administration.”

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The disaster of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General continues to unfold. Contrary to what he told Senators during his contentious confirmation hearings, he’s the same old tone-deaf, insensitive, hard-liner he’s always been. There will be wrongful death suits in Sessions’s future naming him personally. While these so-called “Bivens actions” are usually a steep uphill climb for plaintiffs, given that Sessions acted with knowledge of both the Inspector General’s highly negative findings and his predecessor’s resulting action to curb private prison use, there could be a case there. I hope he took out personal liability insurance and got the highest amount of coverage. He might need it before his tenure is up.

And, as for the inmates and civil immigration detainees who are going to be kept in substandard conditions, I guess it’s just “tough noogies” as far as Sessions is concerned.

PWS

 

BREAKING NEWS: Trump (Predictably) Fires Acting AG Sally Yates For Refusing To Defend Executive Order

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/acting-attorney-general-an-obama-administration-holdover-wont-defend-trump-immigration-order/2017/01/30/a9846f02-e727-11e6-b82f-687d6e6a3e7c_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-banner-main_mobile-banledeall-917am:homepage/story&utm_term=.2bb3e1f21f15

The Washington Post reports tonight:

“President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.

In a press release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente told The Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.
Earlier on Monday, Yates ordered Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo that she is not convinced the order is lawful.

Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”
“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful,” Yates wrote. She wrote that “for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”

Yates is a holdover from the Obama administration, but the move nonetheless marks a stunning dissent to the president’s directive from someone who would be on the front lines of implementing it.”

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Nothing very surprising here. As noted in the article, Yates was a holdover from the Obama Administration. I suppose it’s a nice note of protest for her to end her DOJ tenure.

Nevertheless, Yates was basically a bystander and enabler as her boss, AG Loretta Lynch, and the Obama Administration created chaos in the U.S. Immigration Court system. Lynch and Yates, who, to the best of my knowledge neither set foot inside a U.S. Immigration Court nor took the time to speak in person with sitting judges, mandated enforcement-based priorities which attempted to race vulnerable women, children, and families from Central America seeking refuge in the U.S. through the process on an expedited basis without a reasonable chance to obtain lawyers or present their claims. Indeed, while she might be having pangs of conscience about defending the Trump orders, Yates’s DOJ lawyers had little difficulty defending the facially absurd contention that children who couldn’t even speak English could represent themselves on complex asylum claims in Immigration Court. Meanwhile, those who had been patiently waiting on the Immigration Court’s docket for years and were actually ready to proceed to trial on their claims for relief were arbitrarily “orbited” to the end of the line — years in the future. Yates and Lynch inherited a court system in crisis and left it a disaster.

Then, there was judicial selection. Yates presided over a “Rube Goldberg Type” glacial, hyper-bureaucratized, opaque, hiring process that effectively excluded those outside government from the Immigration Judiciary and the Board of Immigration Appeals, while leaving approximately 75 unfilled positions at the end of the Administration and a BIA structure and system that basically institutionalized and reinforced the aggressively anti-due-process procedures put in place by Attorney General Ashcroft during the Bush Administration. She and her boss left behind total chaos and a due process train wreck that mocked the noble vision of the U.S. Immigration Courts:  through teamwork and innovation be the world’s best administrative tribunals guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.

So, forgive me if I can’t get too enthused about Yates’s belated show of backbone.  Her gesture was purely symbolic, and cost her nothing, since she was going to be replaced immediately upon Sessions’s confirmation. But, when she actually had a chance to improve due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts, she was, sadly, MIA.

PWS

01/30/17