In a memo released to the public on Friday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called on federal prosecutors to pursue harsher sentences for low-level drug crimes — a stark reversal from the more lenient policies of the Obama administration.
The memo, obtained in full by NPR, calls for the stricter penalties to be doled out as part of an effort to achieve more “just and consistent results in federal cases.”
“It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,” Sessions wrote. “By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”
But mandatory minimum sentencing is nothing new — the policies outlined by Sessions hearken back to the “tough-on-crime” era of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In other words, we’ve been down this road before, and we already know where it leads: to people of color being disproportionately incarcerated at alarming rates at the hands of the federal government. Read more (5/12/17)
Less than 1 in 500 defendants enter a plea of NGRI, and over 90% of defendants that do enter this plea are found guilty. When a defendant is found NGRI they are not released back into society. Rather, he or she is sent to a specialised forensic hospital for a designated period of time. Depending on the offence, this can actually be longer than the sentence would have been if the person was found guilty and incarcerated. As with competency, being unable to understand the nature and consequences of the offence is not an easy threshold to reach. The defendant must be unduly impaired. In most cases these individuals are so out of contact with reality that they were not aware that they had committed a crime or that what they were doing was wrong. Those found NGRI, for this reason, usually have extensive histories of mental illness.
In 2010, a sixteen-year-old boy was accused of stealing a backpack. He spent three years in Rikers Island, enduring abuse and solitary confinement, yet he was never convicted of a crime and charges were ultimately dropped.
How did this happen?
Find out when Spike presents “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story,” a six-part documentary event beginning tonight at 10/9c.
This photo was taken in Jay Z’s Roc Nation office on May 11, 2015, less than one month before Browder committed suicided due to the 3 years of physical, emotional, and mental trauma he endured at Rikers Island with no conviction.
What is something the average American, with no legal or social clout, can do to help with campaigning against mass incarceration rates, and campaigning for prisoner rights?
Although it’s easy to feel like individually we might not have much clout or that one person’s opinion won’t make much difference, when ordinary people unite around a particular issue, it becomes the most powerful force in the world. The key is to organize – when you organize people and organize resources, you get power. It’s what has propelled major policy changes like banning the criminal history question on job and college applications, limiting the use of solitary confinement, and recent commitments to close Rikers Island. If you are someone with no direct experience with the criminal justice system, the best thing you can do is identify groups and campaigns near you that are led by or centering people who have been locked up themselves (and their families). Those closest to the problem are usually closest to the solution, but furthest from resources and power. Follow their lead and join them in marching, advocating, and meeting with public officials. Invest in them financially if you are able – while social movements often appear organic and spontaneous, it costs money to organize them. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of social media. While action in the streets and the offices of public officials is still the most effective way to generate change, there are plenty of ways to support those activities from a distance by participating in social media campaigns.
The mother of Kalief Browder is speaking out against what she said was the systemic failure of the United States justice system to protect her son, who committed suicide at her home earlier this month after a long period of incarceration at New York’s Rikers Island. Watch her full interview.
The American criminal “justice” system is a fucking joke. They’re not even tryna hide it anymore. 30 fucking years for weed??? If he was white they probably woulda offered to help him open up a marijuana shop in Colorado or something. LMAO police and judges need to trade their badges in for slave patrol emblems. Just go on Fox News and publicly admit you hate black people and be done with it.
“White House Sends Jared Kushner To Meet With Top Senators On Improving The Criminal Justice System,” BuzzFeed.
‘Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, has been dispatched by the White House to discuss criminal justice reform issues with key senators, BuzzFeed News has learned. Kushner met with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin on Capitol Hill Thursday.’
Again, let’s just stop for a second and consider the fact that the person described by himself as “first among equals” in the White House has been given the lead on U.S. relations with Canada, Mexico, China and the Middle East, has also been asked to run a White House Office of American Innovation, and will now also apparently be running point on improving the criminal justice system. This is a person whose prior background suggests no particular competence in any of these areas of government. His only qualification for White House service appears to be that he married well.
Kushner is barely old enough to run for president, has no experience in public service, has never shown any interest in public service, and is set to make decisions and influence policies that will affect all Americans.