Sessions Reinstitutes Mandatory Minimum Sentencing as Part of a Renewed War on Drugs

by Carl Dix

May 14, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


On May 10, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo instructing federal prosecutors to “... charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.” To make sure the meaning of this policy change was clear, the memo goes on to say: “the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimums.” In other words, hit people with the most serious charge you can and give them the longest sentence possible.

This will mean intensifying the mass incarceration in this country, which imprisons more people than any other country in the world. And this will hit Black and Latino people hardest. Mass incarceration of Black and Latino youth is itself a notorious crime that calls into question the whole legitimacy of the system. It came about in the first place because this capitalist-imperialist system had no future for the masses of Black youth. Beginning with Nixon and going through decades of both Democratic and Republican administrations, the capitalist-imperialist rulers penned Black people up, locked them down by millions, and even killed them off. All this was justified thru criminalizing Black people and drawing on and reinforcing white supremacy and racism.

This was met with resistance all along. With the publication of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and the outpourings that began after the murder of Trayvon Martin and intensified after the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, things took off. People came into the streets against this terror and incarceration in a major way, exposing the injustice of this setup to the eyes of the world and calling into question the legitimacy of the whole system. The rulers were forced to make a show of backing up. In his second term, Obama pushed reforms like body cameras for police and policies that led to a slight decline in the prison population overall and a slightly more significant one in the federal system.

These small reforms failed to quell the mass resistance, and at the same time they were too much for a section of the imperialists. In this context, Trump came forward mobilizing a whole section of white people around a fascist program which included “ethnic cleansing” of immigrants and a revenge-filled program against Black people and other people of color in the name of law and order, aiming to seriously intensify the utterly illegitimate repression visited against them. A program with real genocidal implications.

Trump is seizing on the horror of Black people killing each other to make Chicago ground zero for an offensive aiming to wipe out the struggle of Black people. Threatening to send the feds to Chicago to “fix” the violence and barricading whole neighborhoods on the South Side of the city. Planning to launch Stop and Frisk as a nationwide policing plan. Gutting public education and funneling people into schools that indoctrinate them into being Christian fundamentalist robots.

Sessions’ tough on crime memorandum, along with his earlier moves to reverse the phasing out of use of private prisons to incarcerate federal prisoners and to review DOJ consent decrees with local police departments that had been exposed to be carrying out discriminatory police practices and using excessive force, are also steps in this program.

Trump and Sessions have already declared that they are taking the gloves off the cops who have been caught on video again and again brutalizing and murdering people. Now they are reinstituting maximum charges and mandatory minimums. This is extremely ominous and must be understood as initial steps in a much larger, and again potentially genocidal, fascist program.

If you thought Trump wasn’t a problem for Black people, or was just “more of the same,” you better wake the fuck up, look reality square in the face. And if you were somebody who stood up and took to the streets against the horror of police terror and mass incarceration, or somebody who sympathized with those who did that, now is the time to realize that this struggle must be revived.




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