APPARENTLY, (LIKE TRUMP) HE JUST CAN’T HELP HIMSELF: SESSIONS CONTINUES TO PEDDLE FALSE NARRATIVE ON MIGRANT CRIME WHILE THREATENING TO IMPEDE EFFECTIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-makes-sweeping-attack-on-chicagos-sanctuary-city-policy/2017/08/16/aa1b76f8-82b4-11e7-b359-15a3617c767b_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_sessions606pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.a88227d68507

Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman report in the Washington Post:

“On Wednesday, in response to Sessions’s latest comments, Emanuel invoked the controversy that has enveloped the White House over President Trump’s responses to the violence that erupted in Charlottesville this past weekend.

“In a week in which the Trump administration is being forced to answer questions about ­neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK, they could not have picked a worse time to resume their attack on the immigrants who see America as a beacon of hope,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Chicago will continue to stand up proudly as a welcoming city, and we will not cave to the Trump administration’s pressure because they are wrong morally, wrong factually and wrong legally.”

While Sessions attacked Chicago, he praised Miami-Dade County for “complying with federal immigration law.”

“Americans — all Americans — have a right to full and equal protection under law,” Sessions said. “No one understands this better than the Cuban Americans here in Miami-Dade. . . . They understand that no single person — whether a dictator or a mayor — should determine whose rights are protected and whose are not.”

Sessions said that the county’s homicides were a third of what they were in the 1980s. But, according to the county’s police statistics, murders, rapes and assaults are up in Miami-Dade from where they were at this point last year.

Chicago has also been combating a surge in violent crime, an issue that Trump repeatedly cited during his presidential campaign and since taking office. The city had 762 homicides in 2016, more than the combined total reported by New York and Los Angeles, the only two American cities with larger populations.

There have been 428 murders in Chicago so far this year, down from 440 at the same point in 2016, according to police data. The city has also seen 1,811 shootings, down from 2,149 at this time a year ago, the data show.

Trump has been critical of the response by officials in Chicago, saying that “they’re not doing the job” and suggesting in a television interview this year that perhaps the police were being “overly politically correct.”

Sessions took aim at a city that federal officials have pledged to help. Police have pointed to illegal guns and gang activity as explanations for the increase in crime and have called for harsher sentencing for people convicted of gun crimes. In June, Chicago police and federal authorities announced a new partnership aimed at cracking down on illegal guns.

The top police official in Chicago sharply disputed Sessions’s comments seemingly connecting the violent-crime increase with illegal immigration.

“I have said it before and I will say it again, undocumented immigrants are not driving violence in Chicago and that’s why I want our officers focused on community policing and not trying to be the immigration police,” Eddie Johnson, the Chicago police superintendent, said in a statement.

Rather than helping combat crime, Johnson said, “the federal government’s plans will hamper community policing and undermine the work our men and women have done to reduce shootings by 16 percent so far this year.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Sessions is so steeped in White Nationalist, xenophobic propaganda that he just keeps on lying and misrepresenting with shocking regularity. This dude has no more interest in effective law enforcement and protecting civil rights (including the rights of undocumented individuals to fair treatment under the law) than the man in the moon (or Donald Trump). And he is the guy who is going to protect us from White Supremacists? Com’ on, Man! Liz was right on!

Now, some folks might think it strange that a supposed defender of “states rights” would be threatening to have the Feds roll over the needs and policies of local law enforcement. But, when the overriding agenda is driven by White Nationalism and xenophobia, consistency is beside the point.

PWS

08-16-17

Once Upon A Time, The DOJ Intervened On Behalf Of Disadvantaged Minorities For Whom Civil Rights Protections Were Enacted — Now, Not So Much, As Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions Finds Ways To Use Civil Rights Protections Against Minorities & To Help White Establishment Cling To Power! — Switches Sides To Favor Voter Suppression Before Supremes!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/justice-department-reverses-position-to-allow-ohio-to-purge-inactive-voters-from-rolls/2017/08/08/e93c5116-7c35-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?utm_term=.7ea94a97bc00&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

Sari Horwitz reports in the Washington Post:

“The Justice Department has reversed its position in a high-profile voting case in Ohio, siding with the state in its effort to purge thousands of people from its rolls for not voting in recent elections.

The move is part of a broader campaign by the Trump administration to support restrictions on who is eligible to vote, a radical change in philosophy from the previous Justice Department, which sued a number of states over voting laws that it deemed discriminatory against minorities.

In a court filing late Monday, Justice Department attorneys took the opposite position from the Obama administration in a case that involves Ohio’s removal last year of tens of thousands of inactive voters from its voting rolls.

In their brief, government lawyers say they reconsidered the Ohio vote-purging issue after the “change in Administrations,” and they argue that the state’s actions are legal under federal law. The case is headed next to the Supreme Court.

Ohio’s procedure allows the state to purge voters who meet certain criteria for being inactive. If a voter has not cast a ballot in two years, the person is sent a notice asking them to confirm their registration. If the voter does not respond and does not cast a ballot over the next four years, the person is removed from the rolls.

The Trump administration has signaled in other ways that it intends to back added requirements for voters as part of a crackdown on alleged fraud.

President Trump in May created an advisory commission on election integrity that has been tasked with determining the extent of illegal voting. The president earlier made the baseless allegation that illegal voting cost him the popular vote against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

The commission’s only notable act so far has been to request massive amounts of voter data from the states, a move that has provoked lawsuits accusing the panel of breaching Americans’ privacy.

The case in Ohio is not the first time the Justice Department has reversed course in a major legal battle over voting rights. In February, shortly after Jeff Sessions became attorney general, the department dropped its position in a long-running case that argued Texas intended to discriminate against minorities when it passed a strict voter-ID law.

The Texas law, passed in 2011, required that voters present certain forms of identification, such as a driver’s license or a weapons permit, but the state did not allow other forms, including IDs issued by colleges. Critics said these restrictions targeted voters, such as young people and minorities, who are more likely to vote Democratic. A number of courts found the Texas law to be unconstitutional, and a federal court in April found that the Texas legislature intentionally discriminated against black and Hispanic voters.

Voting rights advocates said the Justice Department’s action on Ohio represented a major change in direction for the U.S. government’s stance on access to the polls.

The move “signals the broader agenda of the administration to roll back voter rights in this country,” said Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama and now president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.

During Sessions’s Senate Confirmation, Senator Liz Warren, Senator Corey Booker, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and my friend and former DOJ Civil Rights Attorney Jerry Hebert, among others, tried to tell the Committee and the Senators that Sessions was the same White Nationalist/racially challenged individual he had been back when he was properly rejected for a U.S. District Judge position. They were “tuned out.”

Sessions took umbrage, and then lied under oath to the Committee when he claimed to be a staunch defender of civil rights and someone who would separate his political positions as a Republican Senator from Alabama (a state with a disgraceful history of racial bias) from his new responsibilities as Attorney General for all Americans. That would include people of color, LGBT Individuals, immigrants, both legal and undocumented, women, and even Democrats. But, he’s the “same ol’ Jeff” just like his critics said he would be. And the carnage to the American justice system that he is creating probably won’t be repaired any time soon.

Gonzo’s reported next target and scheme to waste of taxpayer money: legalized marijuana. Return to “Reefer Madness!”

PWS

08-09-17

 

JOINING THE CLUB: Sessions “Lawyers Up!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/attorney-general-sessions-retains-a-personal-attorney/2017/06/20/698d9828-55f0-11e7-ba90-f5875b7d1876_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_sessionslawyer-941pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.7a3bb2306c43

Sari Horwitz reports in the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been under fire in recent months for his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential race, has retained the services of Washington lawyer Charles J. Cooper, a longtime friend.

Cooper was seen sitting behind Sessions when he testified last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee about President Trump and Russia.

“I do represent the Attorney General, but, as with all clients, do not comment on confidential client matters,” Cooper wrote in an email to The Washington Post.

Cooper, a partner with his own firm, Cooper & Kirk, would not say when he was retained by Sessions or whether he is representing Sessions in the special counsel’s investigation into Trump and Russia. Sessions, who was the first senator to endorse Trump on the campaign trail, was a top adviser to Trump during his race for president.

Cooper also assisted Sessions with his January confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, discussing those preparations in an interview with The Post at the time.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, described Cooper as “the attorney general’s longtime friend and counsel.”

The National Law Journal first reported that Cooper is now Sessions’s personal attorney.

Cooper, who clerked for Justice William H. Rehnquist on the Supreme Court, served in the Justice Department’s civil rights division and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel. He was also a partner at McGuireWoods and at Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge.

Cooper was also under consideration to serve as the Justice Department’s solicitor general. He withdrew his name in February, citing his concern after watching Sessions go through the confirmation process to become attorney general.

“After witnessing the treatment that my friend Jeff Sessions, a decent and honorable man who bears only good will and good cheer to everyone he meets, had to endure at the hands of a partisan opposition that will say anything and do anything to advance their political interests, I am unwilling to subject myself, my family and my friends to such a process,” Cooper said in a statement at the time.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.

I think Cooper confuses “geniality” with “goodwill.” That Sessions is a bearer of “goodwill” would be news to most blacks, hispanics, immigrants, migrants, and LGBT individuals in the U.S. Yes, we’ve all noted that he is “genial.” But the South has been famous for producing polite, charming, genial white politicians who spent careers making sure that African Americans were denied their legal and constitutional rights, their human dignity, and their rights to fully participate in American society. Actions speak louder than words. And, since assuming the office of Attorney General, Sessions’s actions have been geared specifically at implementing a nationalist agenda inconsistent with the interests of many Americans, particularly minorities, immigrants, and the LGBT community.

As I have said numerous times over the past five months, the Trump Administration has been a “lawyer’s dream.” Prosecutors, defense counsel, judges, and legal reporters have all been very busy, and that’s not likely to change.

PWS

06-20-17

 

Sessions Omitted Russian Contacts On Security Forms — Claims He Was Advised Not To List Them!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-didnt-disclose-meetings-with-russian-officials-on-security-clearance-form/2017/05/24/731b7054-40d3-11e7-8c25-44d09ff5a4a8_story.html?utm_term=.ad6409b2b669&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

Sari Horwitz reports in the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not reveal meetings with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance to serve as the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official.

Sessions came under fire earlier this year for not disclosing to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing that, as the senator from Alabama, he met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential election when he was also serving as an adviser to the president. In March, Sessions recused himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign after The Washington Post reported the two meetings.

That same information was omitted from Sessions’s security clearance form, which is known as an SF-86, as first reported Wednesday night by CNN.

“As a United States senator, the attorney general met hundreds — if not thousands — of foreign dignitaries and their staff,” said Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior. “In filling out the SF-86 form, the Attorney General’s staff consulted with those familiar with the process, as well as the FBI investigator handling the background check, and was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.”

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The Post reported elsewhere that other national security experts familiar with the security clearance process believe the contacts should have been listed.

PWS

05-25-17

BETSY WOODRUFF @ THE DAILY BEAST: Going Gonzo At The USDOJ!

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/04/12/prosecutor-jeff-sessions-new-immigration-plan-is-f-cking-horrifying

Betsy writes:

NOGALES, Arizona—The crowd was small, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s speech was short. But his message couldn’t have been clearer:
“This is a new era,” said Sessions, who sported a dark suit in the hot Arizona sun. “This is the Trump era.”
And with that Sessions officially weaponized the Justice Department to crack down on undocumented immigration. After taking a private border tour with Customs and Border Protections agents in Nogales, on the southern edge of Arizona, the attorney general announced the feds will soon be spending a lot more time prosecuting people who break immigration laws.

Sessions made the announcement over a glitchy sound system to a group of reporters and Customs and Border Protection agents just a few feet away from the Mexico border. A gust of wind knocked over the American flag behind him as he spoke, so a CBP agent stood behind it and propped it up until the attorney general finished his speech.
All federal prosecutors, Sessions said in his slow Alabama drawl, must now consider bringing cases against people suspected of the “transportation or harboring of aliens.” Those prosecutors must also look to bring more felony prosecutions against some immigrants who illegally enter the country more than once and should charge immigrants with document fraud—which includes using a made-up Social Security number—and aggravated identity theft when they can.
One veteran federal prosecutor told The Daily Beast these changes are a generating significant concern.
“It’s fucking horrifying,” the prosecutor said. “It’s totally horrifying and we’re all terrified about it, and we don’t know what to do.
“The things they want us to do are so horrifying—they want to do harboring cases of three or more people,” the prosecutor continued. “So if you’re illegal and you bring your family over, then you’re harboring your kid and your wife, and you can go to jail.”
Sessions broke the news on his first trip to the border as attorney general. The last time he visited was a few days before the 2016 presidential election, when he appeared with former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to talk up Trump’s tough-on-immigration credentials. During his time in the Senate, Sessions was a relentless advocate for much tougher enforcement of immigration laws. Now that he’s the nation’s top law enforcement official, he’s making good on those commitments—which this trip is highlighting.
Immigration-related crimes are already a massive portion of federal prosecutors’ caseloads; Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Clearinghouse found that immigration violations—including illegal entry and illegal re-entry—made up 52 percent of federal prosecutions from September 2015 to September 2016. In the Trump era, though, immigration offenses will be an even larger part of prosecutors’ work. It’s a move that delights immigration hawks.
“All of these steps from detention to more judges to prosecuting those who have previously been deported will drive down the number of illegals in the country and lead to even bigger drops in those trying to sneak across the border,” said Hans von Spakovsky of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “All of this is long overdue.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform, a restrictionist group whose leaders have worked closely with Sessions on immigration issues and that has significant clout among Trump’s nationalist-populist allies and aides, takes a broad view of what kind of activity could constitute “harboring.” In a position paper on its site, FAIR says anyone who knowingly helps an undocumented immigrant get a job could be prosecuted.
Some view the change as a waste.

“Every dollar spent on prosecuting an illegal immigrant for illegal reentry is a dollar that could have been spent on prosecuting or investigating a real crime,” said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. “It’s a shame the government is prioritizing the enforcement of, essentially, labor market regulations over violent and property crimes.”
Others welcome it. John Huber, the U.S. attorney for Utah, told The Daily Beast his office has already been doing much of what Sessions called for—especially prosecutions related to people entering the U.S. illegally after previously being deported—but that he expects to bring more harboring prosecutions to comply with the guidance. That would include people who drive vans full of undocumented immigrants across the border and into Utah looking for work, he said.
“That’s the type of case we may see here, where you have someone transporting a vehicle full of unlawful immigrants,” he said. “We will go after the people who are transporting them, organizing, and coordinating that trip, bringing aliens into our country.”
Sessions made clear that the new crackdown won’t exempt parents of U.S. citizens.”

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Read Betsy’s Full article at the above link.

And, the zaniness doesn’t end with immigration prosecutions. Just today, the Washington Post reported on Sessions’s plans to pile on criminal charges and fill up the prisons:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties.

In a speech Friday, Sessions said the move was meant to ensure that prosecutors would be “un-handcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington” as they worked to bring the most significant cases possible.

“We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple,” Sessions said. “If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way, we will not be willfully blind to your misconduct.”

The Holder memo, issued in August 2013, instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with drug offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. Defendants who met a set of criteria such as not belonging to a large-scale drug trafficking organization, gang or cartel, qualified for lesser charges — and in turn less prison time — under Holder’s policy.

Civil liberties advocates at the time praised the move as appropriately merciful — potentially preventing people from facing lifelong penalties for crimes that did not warrant such a punishment. But Sessions’s new charging policy, outlined in a two-page memo and sent to more than 5,000 assistant U.S. attorneys across the country and all assistant attorneys general in Washington, orders prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” and rescinds Holder’s policy immediately.

Sessions said prosecutors would have discretion to avoid sentences “that would result in an injustice,” but his message was clear: His Justice Department will be tougher on drug offenders than its predecessor.

“These are not low-level drug offenders we, in the federal courts, are focusing on,” Sessions said. “These are drug dealers, and you drug dealers are going to prison.”

The Sessions memo marks the first significant criminal justice effort by the Trump administration to bring back the toughest practices of the drug war, which had fallen out of favor in recent years with a bipartisan movement to undo the damaging effects of mass incarceration.
“Drug trafficking is an inherently dangerous and violent business,” Sessions said. “If you want to collect a drug debt, you can’t file a lawsuit in court. You collect it with the barrel of a gun.”

[How Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the war on drugs]

Civil liberties advocates condemned the measure as a return to ineffective policies.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties.

In a speech Friday, Sessions said the move was meant to ensure that prosecutors would be “un-handcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington” as they worked to bring the most significant cases possible.

“We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple,” Sessions said. “If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way, we will not be willfully blind to your misconduct.”

The Holder memo, issued in August 2013, instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with drug offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. Defendants who met a set of criteria such as not belonging to a large-scale drug trafficking organization, gang or cartel, qualified for lesser charges — and in turn less prison time — under Holder’s policy.

Civil liberties advocates at the time praised the move as appropriately merciful — potentially preventing people from facing lifelong penalties for crimes that did not warrant such a punishment. But Sessions’s new charging policy, outlined in a two-page memo and sent to more than 5,000 assistant U.S. attorneys across the country and all assistant attorneys general in Washington, orders prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” and rescinds Holder’s policy immediately.

Sessions said prosecutors would have discretion to avoid sentences “that would result in an injustice,” but his message was clear: His Justice Department will be tougher on drug offenders than its predecessor.

“These are not low-level drug offenders we, in the federal courts, are focusing on,” Sessions said. “These are drug dealers, and you drug dealers are going to prison.”

The Sessions memo marks the first significant criminal justice effort by the Trump administration to bring back the toughest practices of the drug war, which had fallen out of favor in recent years with a bipartisan movement to undo the damaging effects of mass incarceration.
“Drug trafficking is an inherently dangerous and violent business,” Sessions said. “If you want to collect a drug debt, you can’t file a lawsuit in court. You collect it with the barrel of a gun.”

Civil liberties advocates condemned the measure as a return to ineffective policies.”

Read the complete article by Sari Horwitz and Matt Zapotsky at this link:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-issues-sweeping-new-criminal-charging-policy/2017/05/11/4752bd42-3697-11e7-b373-418f6849a004_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_sessions-7a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.84d70fd2e9ee

 

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PWS

05-11-17

“This Is The Trump Era” — Jeff Sessions Visits S. Border — Announces New Emphasis On Immigration Crimes — Although Majority of Feds’ Prosecutions Already Immigraton-Related, Enough Is Never Enough! — “Incarceration Nation” Coming! Sessions Also Seeks 125 New U.S. Immigration Judges Over Next 2 Years — Sessions “Disses” Forensic Science At DOJ!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sessions-lays-out-tough-policy-on-undocumented-who-commit-crimes-1491930183

Aruna Viswanatha reports in the WSJ:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal prosecutors to pursue harsher charges against undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, or repeatedly cross into the U.S. illegally, and promised to add 125 immigration judges in the next two years to address a backlog of immigration cases.

The moves are part of the administration’s efforts to deter illegal immigration and is meant to target gangs and smugglers, though non-violent migrants could also face more severe prosecutions.

In a memo issued Tuesday, Mr. Sessions instructed prosecutors to make a series of immigration offenses “higher priorities,” including transporting or harboring illegal immigrants, illegally entering or reentering the country, or assaulting immigration enforcement agents.

In remarks to border patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona on Tuesday, Mr. Sessions spoke in stark terms about the threat he said illegal immigration poses.

“We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens,” Mr. Sessions said, according to the text of his prepared remarks. “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.”

“This is a new era. This is the Trump era,” Mr. Sessions said.

Former prosecutors said they didn’t expect the memo to dramatically impact U.S. attorneys offices along the southern border, which already bring thousands of such cases each year. They said it could impact those further inland, which haven’t historically focused on immigration violations.

In the fiscal year that ended in September 2016, 52% of all federal criminal prosecutions involved immigration-related offenses, according to Justice Department data analyzed by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

. . . .

Immigration advocates said they worried that the memo and tone set by the administration was describing a closer link between criminal behavior and immigration than statistics show.

“We are seeing an over-emphasis on prosecuting, at the federal level, immigration, illegal entry and reentry cases, and far less paid to criminal violations that implicate public safety,” said Gregory Chen, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.”

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On April 8, 2017, Sari Horowitz reported in the Washington Post on how Sessions’s enthusiastic plans to reinstitute the largely discredited “war on drugs” is likely to “jack up” Federal Prison populations:

“Crime is near historic lows in the United States, but Sessions says that the spike in homicides in several cities, including Chicago, is a harbinger of a “dangerous new trend” in America that requires a tough response.
“Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs is bad,” Sessions said to law enforcement officials in a speech in Richmond last month. “It will destroy your life.”

Advocates of criminal justice reform argue that Sessions and Cook are going in the wrong direction — back to a strategy that tore apart families and sent low-level drug offenders, disproportionately minority citizens, to prison for long sentences.

“They are throwing decades of improved techniques and technologies out the window in favor of a failed approach,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).”

. . . .

Cook and Sessions have also fought the winds of change on Capitol Hill, where a bipartisan group of lawmakers recently tried but failed to pass the first significant bill on criminal justice reform in decades.

The legislation, which had 37 sponsors in the Senate, including Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), and 79 members of the House, would have reduced some of the long mandatory minimum sentences for gun and drug crimes. It also would have given judges more flexibility in drug sentencing and made retroactive the law that reduced the large disparity between sentencing for crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

The bill, introduced in 2015, had support from outside groups as diverse as the Koch brothers and the NAACP. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) supported it, as well.

But then people such as Sessions and Cook spoke up. The longtime Republican senator from Alabama became a leading opponent, citing the spike in crime in several cities.

“Violent crime and murders have increased across the country at almost alarming rates in some areas. Drug use and overdoses are occurring and dramatically increasing,” said Sessions, one of five members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who voted against the legislation. “It is against this backdrop that we are considering a bill . . . to cut prison sentences for drug traffickers and even other violent criminals, including those currently in federal prison.”
Cook testified that it was the “wrong time to weaken the last tools available to federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents.”

After GOP lawmakers became nervous about passing legislation that might seem soft on crime, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“Sessions was the main reason that bill didn’t pass,” said Inimai M. Chettiar, the director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “He came in at the last minute and really torpedoed the bipartisan effort.”

Now that he is attorney general, Sessions has signaled a new direction. As his first step, Sessions told his prosecutors in a memo last month to begin using “every tool we have” — language that evoked the strategy from the drug war of loading up charges to lengthen sentences.

And he quickly appointed Cook to be a senior official on the attorney general’s task force on crime reduction and public safety, which was created following a Trump executive order to address what the president has called “American carnage.”

“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.”

. . . .

Sessions’s aides stress that the attorney general does not want to completely upend every aspect of criminal justice policy.

“We are not just sweeping away everything that has come before us.” said Robyn Thiemann, the deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy, who is working with Cook and has been at the Justice Department for nearly 20 years. “The attorney general recognizes that there is good work out there.”

Still, Sessions’s remarks on the road reveal his continued fascination with an earlier era of crime fighting.

In the speech in Richmond, he said, “Psychologically, politically, morally, we need to say — as Nancy Reagan said — ‘Just say no.’ ”

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Not surprisingly, Sessions’s actions prompted a spate of critical commentary, the theme of which was the failure of the past “war on drugs” and “Just say no to Jeff Sessions.” You can search them on the internet, but here is a representative example, an excerpt from a posting by Rebecca Bergenstein Joseph in “Health Care Musings:”

“We Can’t Just Say No
Posted on April 9, 2017 by Rebecca Bergenstein Joseph
Three decades ago, Nancy Reagan launched her famous anti-drug campaign when she told American citizens, “Say yes to your life. And when it comes to alcohol and drugs, just say no.” 1 Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions invoked the former First Lady’s legacy in a speech to Virginia law enforcement when he said, “ I think we have too much tolerance for drug use– psychologically, politically, morally. We need to say, as Nancy Reagan said, ‘Just say no.’”2 As our nation is confronted on a daily basis with the tragic effects of the opioid epidemic, it is important that we understand just how dangerous it is to suggest that we return to the ‘just say no’ approach.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the ‘just say no’ curriculum became the dominant drug education program nationwide in the form of DARE.3 The DARE program– Drug Abuse Resistance Education– was developed in 1983 by the Los Angeles police chief in collaboration with a physician, Dr. Ruth Rich. The pair adapted a drug education curriculum that was in the development process at University of Southern California in order to create a program that would be taught by police officers and would teach students to resist the peer pressure to use alcohol and drugs. With the backdrop of the War on Drugs that had continued from the Nixon presidency into the Reagan era, DARE grew quickly. Communities understandably wanted to prevent their children from using alcohol and drugs. The program was soon being used in 75% of schools nationwide and had a multimillion dollar budget.3 In fact, I would bet that many of you reading this are DARE graduates. I certainly am.

It did not take long for there to be research showing that the ‘just say no’ approach used in DARE was not working. By the early 1990s there were multiple studies showing that DARE had no effect on its graduates choices regarding alcohol and drug use.4 The decision to ignore the research about DARE culminated when the National Institute of Justice evaluated the program in 1994, concluded that it was ineffective, and proceeded to not publish this finding. In the 10 years that followed, DARE was subjected to evaluation by the Department of Education, the U.S Surgeon General’s Office, and the Government Accountability Office.4 The combined effect of these evaluations was the eventual transformation of DARE into an evidence-based curriculum, Keepin’ It REAL, which was released in 2011.5 But this only happened after billions of dollars were spent on a program that did not work and millions of students received inadequate drug education.

And yet, here we are again. The top law enforcement officer in our nation is suggesting that we go back to the days where elementary and middle school students were told that all they needed to do was ‘just say no.’”

Read the complete post here:

https://sites.tufts.edu/cmph357/author/rjosep06/

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Finally, just yesterday, on April 10, 2017, Spenser S. Hsu reported in the Washington Post that Sessions was “canning” the “National Commission on Forensic Science, a roughly 30-member advisory panel of scientists, judges, crime lab leaders, prosecutors and defense lawyers chartered by the Obama administration in 2013” as a consultant to the DOJ on proper forensic standards.

In plain terms, in Session’s haste to rack up more criminal convictions and appear “tough on crime,” the quality of the evidence or the actual guilt or innocence of those charged becomes merely “collateral damage” in the “war on crime.”

Here’s a portion of what Hsu had to say:

“Several commission members who have worked in criminal courts and supported the input of independent scientists said the department risks retreating into insularity and repeating past mistakes, saying that no matter how well-intentioned, prosecutors lack scientists’ objectivity and training.

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of New York, the only federal judge on the commission, said, “It is unrealistic to expect that truly objective, scientifically sound standards for the use of forensic science . . . can be arrived at by entities centered solely within the Department of Justice.”

In suspending reviews of past testimony and the development of standards for future reporting, “the department has literally decided to suspend the search for the truth,” said Peter S. Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, which has reported that nearly half of 349 DNA exonerations involved misapplications of forensic science. “As a consequence innocent people will languish in prison or, God forbid, could be executed,” he said.

However, the National District Attorneys Association, which represents prosecutors, applauded the end of the commission and called for it to be replaced by an Office of Forensic Science inside the Justice Department. Disagreements between crime lab practitioners and defense community representatives on the commission had reduced it to “a think tank,” yielding few accomplishments and wasted tax dollars, the association said.

The commission was created after critical reports by the National Academy of Sciences about a dearth of standards and funding for crime labs, examiners and researchers, problems it partly traced to law enforcement control over the system.

Although examiners had long claimed to be able to match pattern evidence — such as with firearms or bite marks — to a source with “absolute” or “scientific” certainty, only DNA analysis had been validated through statistical research, scientists reported.

In one case, the FBI lab in 2005 abandoned its four-decade-long practice of tracing bullets to a specific manufacturer’s batch through chemical analyses after its method were scientifically debunked. In 2015, the department and bureau reported that nearly every examiner in an elite hair-analysis unit gave scientifically flawed or overstated testimony in 90 percent of cases for two decades before 2000.

The cases include 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison.”

Here is a link to the full article by Hsu: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/sessions-orders-justice-dept-to-end-forensic-science-commission-suspend-review-policy/2017/04/10/2dada0ca-1c96-11e7-9887-1a5314b56a08_story.html?utm_term=.97b814db4eac&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

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I “get” that some of the advocacy groups quoted in these articles could be considered “interested parties” and/or “soft on crime” in the world of hard-core prosecutors. But, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and the Koch brothers “soft on crime?” Come on, man!

Capitalist theory says that as long as there is a nearly insatiable “market” in the United States for illegal drugs, and a nearly inexhaustible “supply” abroad, there is going to be drug-related crime. Harsher sentences might increase risks and therefore “jack up market prices” for “consumers” of “product,” while creating “new job opportunities” for “middlemen” who will have to take (and be compensated for) more risks and invest in more expensive business practices (such as bribery, or manipulation of the legal system) to get the product “to market.”

But, you can bet that until we deal with the “end causes” in a constructive manner, neither drug trafficking nor trafficking in undocumented individuals is likely to change much in the long run.

Indeed, authorities have been cutting off heads, hands, feet, and other appendages, drawing and quartering, hanging, crucifying, shooting, gassing, injecting, racking, mutilating, imprisoning in dungeons, transporting, banishing, and working to death those who have committed crimes, both serious and not so serious, for centuries. But, strangely, such harsh practices, while certainly diminishing the humanity of those who inflict them, have had little historical effect on crime. The most obvious effects have been more dead and damaged individuals, overcrowded prisons, and angry disaffected families.

125 new U.S. Immigration Judges should be good news for the beleaguered U.S. Immigration Courts. But, even assuming that Congress goes along, at the glacial pace the DOJ and EOIR have been hiring Immigration Judges over the past two Administrations, it could take all four years of Trump’s current term to get them on board and actually deciding cases.

More bad news: Added to the approximately 375 Immigration Judges currently authorized (but, only about 319 actually on the bench), that would bring the total to 500 Immigration Judges. Working at the current 750 completions/year (50% above the “optimum” of 500 completions/year) the currently authorized 375 Immigration Judges could complete fewer than 300,000 cases/year consistent with due process — barely enough to keep up with historic receipts, let alone the “enhanced enforcement” promised by the Trump Administration. They would not have to capacity to address the current “backlog” of approximately 550,000 cases.

If receipts remained “flat,” the 125 “new” Immigration Judges contemplated by AG Sessions could go to work on on the backlog. But, it would take them about 6 years to wipe out the 550,000 case existing backlog.

PWS

04/11/17