Jun 11, 2017

Jeff Sessions Attempt at Reversing Drug Reform



Despite arguments from the advocates of the criminal justice reform under Obama, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and federal prosecutor Steven H. Cook are attempting to undo these policies. Both are eager in their approach to reinstate the national crime strategy used during the height of the drug war in the 1980's and '90's. It will be interesting to follow their progress and see if they are able to sway lawmakers into returning to the 'hard on drugs' approach. I personally believe that sessions is truly going in the wrong direction. Obama reduced harsh penalties for non-violent drug offenders for good reason! The old strategy that Sessions is trying to reinstate tore families apart and sent low-level drug offenders, disproportionately minority citizens, to prison for long sentences.

Rachna Shah
Jun 11, 2017

Thanks for making this post Chase, this is a really important topic that's been slipping under the radar of the main news companies in the US.


Here's a brief outline for anyone interested in an overview of the issue -


The opioid epidemic is finally being realized as the catastrophe as it is by local, state, and national levels of government, and by turning back to the war on drugs, I feel as though we're regressing rather than progressing.

Jun 14, 2017

While I agree the opioid epidemic sucks, and we absolutely need to address it, harsher penalties isn't necessarily the way to go IMO. For one, the people already addicted aren't going to stop because of harsher penalties, the drugs are more important at that point than the law. It also isn't doing anything to get those people off of drugs by just throwing them in jail as opposed to spending money to rehab them to be more productive members of society.


Another important thing to realize is the reason the war on drugs started under Nixon and got kicked up under Reagan. The war on drugs was a racial and political issue disguised as a moral one. Nixon knew that by initiating the war on drugs, he'd be able to target black, brown, and hippie communities (all of which weren't all that keen on him). Which makes sense when you think about it, because it was a war on drugs, not a "let's help people get off drugs". Because of that distinction, Nixon was able to use the war on drugs to target his enemies.


Now we get to Reagan. I don't have a high opinion on him, but we can save that for another day. Reagan upped the ante for the war on drugs, and that's how we got amazing ads with Pee-Wee Herman telling kids no to do crack (side note, he told us not to do drugs while funding the Contras which I think is at least a little bit funny). Now Reagan wasn't really trying to do this to help the people, nor was the moral majority that elected him. If he was, he probably wouldn't have made stricter penalties for "black drugs" like crack, as opposed to "white drugs" like cocaine, even though they're essentially the same thing. If you want more proof that these things were racially and politically motivated (and that Reagan is not great), look no further than his advisor Lee Atwater, who said (and I'll link the whole quote because everyone should read it) "You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can't say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.".


Lee illustrates a key concept of the war and Reagan era politics, that we used coded language to pretend these issues weren't aimed at the groups they were aimed at. This is not a moral crusade, this was fueled by bigotry.


That's why I'm skeptical of people who say that we need to be harder when it comes to the war on drugs. Wars on nouns generally don't work anyways, and it's pretty hard to take away all that bad history connected to it. Do I think we need reforms? Absolutely. But the war on drugs was a failure (look at the opioid crisis now if you need proof) and it's legacy is not a good one.

Jun 15, 2017

Enrique this was a great addition to this topic. You do a great job of contextualizing this historically and connecting it to a bigger idea that wars on nouns do not generally work anyway(aka the war on terror) and it really aids in acquiring a greater understanding of this issue as a whole. In response to Rachna, it truly is astounding that the opioid epidemic has gone under the radar for as long as it has especially since it has been thrown into the spotlight due to widespread opioid addiction in the NFL. This article and Vice video do a great job discussing the problem of painkillers in the NFL and how this public attention could create pressure to potentially open the door to helping all athletes and all other opioid addicts with the use of medicinal marijuana.

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