Attorney General Jeff Sessions apparently plans to entrust criminal justice “reform” to Steven H. Cook,
a former street cop [turned] … federal prosecutor … [who] saw nothing wrong with … life sentences for drug charges [or] … the huge growth of the prison population.
This news is not surprising given Sessions’ views on the drug war (“good people don’t smoke marijuana”). But the Sessions/Cook perspective is still depressing:
Law enforcement officials say that Sessions and Cook are preparing a plan to prosecute more drug and gun cases and pursue mandatory minimum sentences. The two men are eager to bring back the national crime strategy of the 1980s and ’90s from the peak of the drug war, an approach that had fallen out of favor in recent years as minority communities grappled with the effects of mass incarceration.
The “silver” lining is that Sessions’s position–drug users are bad people–makes the issue as stark as possible: do we, as a society, believe in individual liberty or not? Much opposition to the drug war (e.g., campaigns against mandatory minimums) avoids that question.
Mandatory minimums are misguided, but mainly because drug trafficking and possession should not be crimes in the first place.
The Drug War will end only when opponents focus on the fundamental issue: drug use is an individual decision, and government has no right to interfere.