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Mon Aug 19, 2013, 06:39 PM

 

HOLDER & OBAMA Are Playing Us On Mandatory Minimums, the Drug War and Mass Incarceration


Once or twice a year Eric Holder and/or the president discover police brutality, racial profiling, or the injustice of the drug war, or mass incarceration. Black America gets some sound bytes of “drive-by” concern, some noises about a study or a “policy change." But 55 months into the Obama administration, when we compare the prez and attorney general's words with their actions, black America looks like it's been played. Again.

Holder & Obama Are Playing Us on Mandatory Minimums, the Drug War and Mass Incarceration





After 55 months as US Attorney General, preceded by years as a remarkably vicious federal prosecutor, Eric Holder made what could have been a groundbreaking speech – if only he'd made it 50-some months ago and followed it up with four and half years of the persistent, wide ranging action needed to begin undoing and unraveling the prison state Let's stand Eric Holder's and this administration's expressions of concern over mass incarceration alongside its actual record of exercising the power in its hands. When we do, Eric Holder looks a lot like a lying hypocrite, and the administration looks like it's playing black America for a nation of chumps. At no time in this 55 months have the White House, its Attorney General, or its allies in Congress ever seriously pushed for the repeal of mandatory minimum drug sentences, and there is no full court press on this now either. Holder merely says that he'll instruct federal D.A.s not to file drug charges which under federal law invoke the mandatory minimum sentences in small scale cases where the feds see no violence or gang affiliation. For all kinds of reasons federal D.A.s don't exactly and often will not follow these instructions. More importantly they can be quietly revoked at any time by this or any future attorney general, and none of it affects drug prosecutions under state law. That's a lot less than the sea change in the prosecution of the drug war you'd think happened if you watched CNN or MSNBC this week.



Changing a few rules and calling for a Department of Justice study would be a good start when you have and intend to use your next seven plus years in office to follow it up and make it stick. But more than half the Obama administration's time is up, including 24 months when they held majorities in both the House and Senate. It's late. And this is just a little. Holder and Obama have established a pattern. Once or twice a year, generally but not always in front of black audiences, they pretend to have newly discovered police forces and prosecutors around the country routinely profile and stalk black males. They publicly admit, as if it's new news, that black and brown people are arrested more often, charged more aggressively, sentenced more harshly and serve longer sentences than whites. This very week Eric Holder uncovered the fact the US locks up too many people for too long, and that mass incarceration (though he won't use that term unless quoting the title of a certain book) ravages and punishes entire communities. But it's all talk.



What could the administration actually do?

What Holder and the Obama administration will NOT discover is a way to reduce the budget of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which grew 4% in this year of budgetary austerity. They won't find a way to NOT open that new federal supermax prison in Illinois, or a way to close existing torture facility like the one Florence CO. They aren't looking for ways to use federal law enforcement and corrections funding to pressure states to close their supermaxes, or encourage them to provide educational opportunities and decent medical care to the 2 million plus in state and local prisons and jails. These are practical measures Holder and his boss have had the power to do for 55 months now, and haven't done, haven't even discussed. After the 2010 passage of the Fair Sentencing Act, and court decisions which say its provisions ought to be retroactive back to the 1980s, President Obama could have, as Margaret Kimberley pointed out two weeks ago, simply commuted the sentences of the 5,000, 10,000 or 12,000, depending on the degree of retroactivity applied, who have already served excess prison time under the old and outlawed 100 to 1 crack vs powder cocaine penalties.




What has the Obama Justice Department actually done?

President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act in August of 2010 reducing the 100 to 1 crack vs powdered cocaine penalties to 18 to 1, but the Department of Justice refused to actually reduce the sentences of prisoners already serving time. In July 2011, after resisting pressure from the families of prisoners serving that unjust time for ten months, Attorney General Eric Holder announced sentence reductions would be implemented, but only retroactive to August 2010. That hasn't happened either. As we revealed two weeks ago in Black Agenda Report, the Obama Justice Department argued in 2010, 2011 and as late as May 2013 that the old, unfair crack vs powder sentences just continue to apply and that nobody should be let go a day early. The 6th circuit court disagreed with the Justice Department and declared that sentence reductions should go back at least to 2003 and perhaps to 1987. The Justice Department is still opposing this, and appears set to take it up to the US Supreme Court --- the same gang that overthrew the Voting Rights Act. Good luck for us all on that one.


cont'




http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/holder-obama-are-playing-us-mandatory-minimums-drug-war-and-mass-incarceration

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Reply HOLDER & OBAMA Are Playing Us On Mandatory Minimums, the Drug War and Mass Incarceration (Original post)
Segami Aug 2013 OP
liberal_at_heart Aug 2013 #1
Segami Aug 2013 #2
CrispyQ Aug 2013 #3
KoKo Aug 2013 #4
MotherPetrie Aug 2013 #5
Segami Aug 2013 #6
woo me with science Aug 2013 #7
ProSense Aug 2013 #8

Response to Segami (Original post)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 06:42 PM

1. I certainly don't trust anything Holder says. Don't really trust what Obama says either.

Actions speak louder than words.

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Response to liberal_at_heart (Reply #1)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 06:44 PM

2. Yup.

 

Don't talk about bringing-the-heat,....let me SEE the heat you brought with my own eyes.

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Response to Segami (Original post)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 07:04 PM

3. They should both be ashamed, but I know they are not.

Locking up citizens so private corporations can profit off of our tax dollars, that they then spend to bribe legislators to write draconian laws to lock up citizens. This is so shameful.


What Holder and the Obama administration will NOT discover is a way to reduce the budget of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which grew 4% in this year of budgetary austerity. . . . After the 2010 passage of the Fair Sentencing Act, and court decisions which say its provisions ought to be retroactive back to the 1980s, President Obama could have, as Margaret Kimberley pointed out two weeks ago, simply commuted the sentences of the 5,000, 10,000 or 12,000, depending on the degree of retroactivity applied, who have already served excess prison time under the old and outlawed 100 to 1 crack vs powder cocaine penalties.


That someone profits when someone is sent to prison is a completely perverted value.

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Response to Segami (Original post)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 07:07 PM

4. I think they have ignored it...while working to incarcerate more ..while trying

to pretend that they aren't.

They seem to have such a close relationship...that one hand washes the other.

That's after watching this DUO for 5 1/2 years. Sadly.

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Response to Segami (Original post)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 07:07 PM

5. K&R Eric Holder is one of many stains on the Obama Administration.

 

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Response to Segami (Original post)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 07:08 PM

6. "...The president observed that Trayvon could have been his son or even himself 35 years ago..."

 

snip

The president and attorney general have waxed philosophical about racism, profiling, police practices and mass incarceration, although again they won't use that phrase. The president observed that Trayvon could have been his son or even himself 35 years ago. The attorney general shared with us that as a black father he must carefully instruct his young sons as to how to comport themselves in the presence of aggressive cops.

But Holder and Obama are not philosophers, pastors or teachers. They are the two most powerful black men in the US. They've been in actual power 55 months now, with a little over 40 to go. Their actions reveal their expressions of concern and feeling our pain are no more than politically expedient drive-by gestures to keep black America in line.

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Response to Segami (Original post)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 07:11 PM

7. Huge K&R.

Words versus actions. Again.

The Obama administration is aggressively growing private prisons
http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=2643210

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Response to Segami (Original post)

Mon Aug 19, 2013, 07:17 PM

8. So the

"HOLDER & OBAMA Are Playing Us On Mandatory Minimums, the Drug War and Mass Incarceration"

...people released and the facts are bullshit? I mean, this is from the previous changes under the FSA:

Sentencing Reform Starts to Pay Off

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

In 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the vast disparity in the way the federal courts punish crack versus powder cocaine offenses. Instead of treating 100 grams of cocaine the same as 1 gram of crack for sentencing purposes, the law cut the ratio to 18 to 1. Initially, the law applied only to future offenders, but, a year later, the United States Sentencing Commission voted to apply it retroactively. Republicans raged, charging that crime would go up and that prisoners would overwhelm the courts with frivolous demands for sentence reductions. Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa said the commission was pursuing “a liberal agenda at all costs.”

This week, we began to learn that there are no costs, only benefits. According to a preliminary report released by the commission, more than 7,300 federal prisoners have had their sentences shortened under the law. The average reduction is 29 months, meaning that over all, offenders are serving roughly 16,000 years fewer than they otherwise would have. And since the federal government spends about $30,000 per year to house an inmate, this reduction alone is worth nearly half-a-billion dollars — big money for a Bureau of Prisons with a $7 billion budget. In addition, the commission found no significant difference in recidivism rates between those prisoners who were released early and those who served their full sentences.

Federal judges nationwide have long expressed vigorous disagreement with both the sentencing disparity and the mandatory minimum sentences they are forced to impose, both of which have been drivers of our bloated federal prison system. But two bipartisan bills in Congress now propose a cheaper and more humane approach. It would include reducing mandatory minimums, giving judges more flexibility to sentence below those minimums, and making more inmates eligible for reductions to their sentences under the new ratio.

But 18 to 1 is still out of whack. The ratio was always based on faulty science and misguided assumptions, and it still disproportionately punishes blacks, who make up more than 80 percent of those prosecuted for federal crack offenses. The commission and the Obama administration have called for a 1-to-1 ratio. The question is not whether we can afford to do it, but whether we can afford not to.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/02/opinion/sentencing-reform-starts-to-pay-off.html

Washington Gives Us Something to Get Excited About (No, Really!)
http://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/washington-gives-us-something-get-excited-about-no-really

Background.

Justice Is Served

By Laura W. Murphy

June 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's declaration of a "war on drugs" — a war that has cost roughly a trillion dollars, has produced little to no effect on the supply of or demand for drugs in the United States, and has contributed to making America the world's largest incarcerator. Throughout the month, check back daily for posts about the drug war, its victims and what needs to be done to restore fairness and create effective policy.

Today is an exciting day for the ACLU and criminal justice advocates around the country. Following much thought and careful deliberation, the United States Sentencing Commission took another step toward creating fairness in federal sentencing by retroactively applying the new Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) guidelines to individuals sentenced before the law was enacted. This decision will help ensure that over 12,000 people — 85 percent of whom are African-Americans — will have the opportunity to have their sentences for crack cocaine offenses reviewed by a federal judge and possibly reduced.

This decision is particularly important to me because, as director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, I have advocated for Congress and the sentencing commission to reform federal crack cocaine laws for almost 20 years. In 1993, the ACLU lead the coalition that convened the first national symposium highlighting the crack cocaine disparity entitled "The 100 to 1 Ratio: Racial Bias in Cocaine Laws." Now, 25 years after the first crack cocaine law was enacted in the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, the sentencing commission has taken another step toward ending the racial and sentencing disparities that continue to exist in our criminal justice system.

By voting in favor of retroactivity, I am pleased that the commission chose justice over demagoguery and concluded that retroactivity was necessary to ensuring that the goals of the FSA were fully realized. It is important to remember that even with today's commission vote not every crack cocaine offender will have his or her sentence reduced. Judges are still required to determine whether a person qualifies for a retroactive reduction so, contrary to what some have said, this is not a "get out of jail free card."

- more -

http://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/justice-served

Chance at Freedom: Retroactive Crack Sentence Reductions For Up to 12,000 May Begin Today
http://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/chance-freedom-retroactive-crack-sentence-reductions-12000-may-begin-today

Bruce Dixon is an anti-Obama tool, and his current piece is pure bullshit. I mean, he's dismissing a policy that hasn't even had a to work, as it was just announced.

Smarter Sentencing

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

You know a transformational moment has arrived when the attorney general of the United States makes a highly anticipated speech on a politically combustible topic and there is virtually no opposition to be heard.

That describes the general reaction to Eric Holder Jr.’s announcement on Monday that he was ordering “a fundamentally new approach” in the federal prosecution of many lower-level drug offenders. What once would have elicited cries of “soft on crime” now drew mostly nods of agreement. As Mr. Holder said, it’s “well past time” to take concrete steps to end the nation’s four-decade incarceration binge — the result of harsh sentencing laws enacted in response to increased violent crime in the late 1960s and 1970s.

The statistics have been repeated so often as to be numbing: 1.57 million Americans in state and federal prisons, an increase of more than 500 percent since the late 1970s, at a cost of $80 billion annually. In 2010, more than 7 in 100 black men ages 30 to 34 years old were behind bars. The federal system alone holds 219,000 inmates, 40 percent above its capacity, thanks to strict sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimum sentences. Of these inmates, nearly half are in prison for drug-related crimes.

In Mr. Holder’s words, “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason.” Many criminal-justice experts have long felt the same way. What made Mr. Holder’s speech timely and important was that it reflected a fundamental shift in thinking about crime and punishment at the highest levels of government.

- more -

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/14/opinion/smarter-sentencing.html

ACLU: How to Process Eric Holder’s Major Criminal Law Reform Speech
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10023451453



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