Donald Trump seems intent on undoing every piece of legislation put in place by former President Barack Obama—and because he’s president, the spotlight usually shines on him. But all along, his cohort, Jeff Sessions, has been flying under the radar, doing some critical dismantling on his own. Sessions is also on a mission to destroy the work of his black predecessor, former Attorney General Eric Holder.
On Wednesday, Sessions announced he’s rolling back policies Holder and Obama established to insure equality under the law.
Basically, Sessions wants to increase racial profiling by bringing back harsher penalties for low level drug and gun offenders, allowing police to seize assets even if a person is not found guilty of a crime, and doing away with federal reviews of police departments accused of excessive force.
If allowed to enact these laws, progress made toward equal justice and fairness would be turned back severely. Despite near historic crime lows, Jeff Sessions wants to renew the “war on drugs,” a policy adopted with the crack epidemic in the 1980s, and which became a crime bill under former President Bill Clinton. It was an overkill bill that led to the disproportionate incarceration of Black and Brown Americans, and devastation of families. From it, came the “three strikes” rule that mandated life sentences.
President Obama reduced sentences of 1,715 low-level, non-violent drug offenders to address the disparities, including crack versus powder cocaine sentencing. Bipartisan support for criminal justice reform legislation was approved in Congress, much to then-Senator Session’s opposition.
Another setback is Sessions’ decision to increase the use of “civil asset forfeiture” in an attempt to curb drug trafficking. This would allow the cops to seize up to 80% of a person’s assets, even if they are not charged with a crime.
The practice of allowing police to take things from people and keep them, even if they are not convicted, is more common than you might think. This has the potential to be a huge money maker for states and a clear violation of human rights for citizens.
Finally, Sessions is working to stall – or end — a federal review of police departments where racial profiling, excessive use of force and racial discrimination by police are prevalent. It’s a way for abusive police departments to have their way with us because this would undermine any protection for citizens who are rightfully skeptical of police.
Sessions’ policies are troubling at best. Looks like we’re in for yet another fight as the battle for equality and justice rages on.