Jeff Sessions is on a Crusade Against Black People
On May 12, 2017 United States Attorney General and local sith lord, Jeff Sessions caused a non partisan stir when he informed Federal prosecutors that they should go back to the ways of the 90’s and look to hit criminal offenders, particularly those with drug offenses, with the harshest charges possible. The decision is a complete 180 from former Attorney General Eric Holder, who encouraged prosecutors to as much as possible, avoid mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug cases. Despite years of evidence to show that the War on Drugs was an abject failure, Jeff Sessions is doubling down on mandatory minimums and and the prison industrial complex. Politicians, pundits, and Republicans are confused. They shouldn’t be, Jeff Sessions is a racist. With Jim Crow and slavery dead the prison industrial complex is Sessions best bet for disenfranchising African-Americans, and people of color.
When we’re discussing the “War on Drugs” we should be clear, this wasn’t a battle to save the soul of America, it was an all out assault on people of color. Since Republican President, Ronald Reagan first declared that there would be a war, more than 20 million Americans have been arrested on drug charges, more than a third of them have been African American. Some might tell you the reason this happens is because African Americans and other people of color use it more than their white counterparts, this is a lie. According to the center for drug policy, “Although rates of drug use and selling are comparable across racial lines, people of color are far more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated for drug law violations than are whites.”
During the crack epidemic, urban communities were raided with drug task forces, that resulted in a disproportionate representation in the prison system. This is despite two thirds of all crack users being white. The prison population grew significantly, leaving entire communities stripped of their fathers, brothers, uncles, and leaders.
But was it worth it? Well, it depends on who you ask. If you’re a corrections officer, or someone who works in the criminal justice system, yes. Currently, our country spends $70 million dollars a year just on corrections. Shareholders in Private Prisons have also seen a huge windfall. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “In 2010, the two largest private prison companies alone received nearly $3 billion dollars in revenue.”
A lot of people are making money from this battle, but on the other side, working people are losing their community, and spending a lot of money to do it.In New York State, the average taxpayer is spending $60,000 per inmate, with the national average hovering just below $32,000 a year. The individual family doesn’t do much better, for families trying to navigate the system with one of their own incarcerated, “the average debt incurred for court-related fines and fees alone was $13,607.” For people coming from poor and working class families, $13,000 just to deal with court is a non starter, forcing many to cut ties with the incarcerated person.
But as bad as this system is, it has been a complete disaster for African Americans and People of color. No other group has paid a bigger price for the war on drugs. Of the 2.3 million people currently incarcerated, African Americans make up almost 1 million. Our communities are forced to deal with a larger police presence, and we are unfairly associated with drug use even though white americans are 32% more likely to sell or use drugs. This false association to drug use and addiction has created the culture of state sanctioned violence against African-Americans, and stunting upward mobility.
After years of this dysfunction, the tide had begun to turn. People on both sides of the political aisle were looking at the numbers and acknowledging the failure this false crusade had been. Leading to a shift in policy and concerted efforts to right the wrongs of the past.
This shift in policy started with the decriminalization of marijuana. After years of being considered a schedule 1 drug. States like Colorado, Alaska, and California moved to legalize it. The debate was slowly shifting from “Is Marijuana bad for you” to “How do we assure people of color are able to benefit from the pot economy?” and just as we began to really dig into this conversation, Sessions has thrown a klans monkey wrench into the equation.
In the coming weeks, there will be weak kneed attempts to explain away Sessions ridiculous reassertion of the “War on Drugs” the Trump Administration will cite incorrect numbers from illegitimate publications like, Breitbart and Fox News to push their agenda. No matter how hard they try, you must remain vigilant. There is only one reason someone would to restart a process that was a proven failure, and that’s because of its impacts on a specific group of people.
When we started to reflect on our broken system, and incorporate changes that would correct it, we also created new opportunities for African-Americans and people of color to strive. In the crooked world of Jeff Sessions, this simply can not happen. If African Americans are no longer criminalized, imprisoned, and disproportionately punished, Sessions and the racist establishment would have lost one of their greatest tools of oppression. He’s not interested in seeing that happen.