August 12, 2013

What Eric Holder said about drugs.

I held up on blogging the advance publicity on the speech because I wanted to see the text, which is now available here.

We will start [to recalibrate America’s federal criminal justice system] by fundamentally rethinking the notion of mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes....

This is why I have today mandated a modification of the Justice Department’s charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences...

Secondly, the Department has now updated its framework for considering compassionate release for inmates facing extraordinary or compelling circumstances – and who pose no threat to the public...

Finally, my colleagues and I are taking steps to identify and share best practices for enhancing the use of diversion programs – such as drug treatment and community service initiatives – that can serve as effective alternatives to incarceration.

20 comments:

Bob Ellison said...

Even a blind, stupid, malevolent mouse sometimes finds a grain.

Illuninati said...

I don't have much respect for Eric Holder, but this speech does seem to have some good ideas. Perhaps it is time to scale back the war on drug.

The Godfather said...

There are some good ideas here, but to effect a real change you need to change statutes, not just DOJ practices. As we have seen numerous times before, the Obama Administration doesn't want to play the democracy game when they can play the administration game.

hombre said...

Just a variation on the old shibboleth of the sociopathic left that prisons are full of non-violent, first offenders.

Of course, the non-violent first offenders who are in prison are virtually all white collar offenders who the left demanded for years be put away.

Just more political theater from one of the nation's two most prominent law breakers.

Carl said...

Fucking Caesar. Incredible that it doesn't occur to so many not to take a squint inside the wonderful wooden horse the Greeks have left outside the gates. It's so pretty! Such elegant, pleasing carving...!

However attractive his early forays, does anyone of a genuine republican spirit actually want national crime policy set by the Attorney General, all by his lonesome? No need to get Congress to spell it all tiresomely out, right? Let's just pass a very simple law 1 USC § 1(a) The Attorney General of the United States shall enforce Federal Law in order to ensure liberty and justice for all. and then let he and his staff of hardworking noble elves work out the details.

I'm sure that will work out well. Madison is rolling in his grave, and Jefferson would, too, only I'm sure he gave up on us long ago.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

The NYT article on this policy this morning (prior to the speech, of course) gave the example of the mandatory minimum for possessing 5kg of cocaine. Look, if you possess 5kg of cocaine, it isn't for your own personal use, and you absolutely can be presumed to be fairly high up in the dealing business. I'm no fan of the "drug war" -- quite the contrary -- but the person carrying a quarter million's worth of blow is no innocent small-scale user.

The more worrisome thing, for me, is this administration's habit of rewriting law by selective enforcement. The pattern is just too clear and too repetitive. The tax credits for policies purchased on the federal exchanges, though the PPACA doesn't allow for such; the delayed employer mandate despite clear statutory language with a date attached; the requirement that Congressional Members and staffers buy insurance through the exchanges, circumvented; the immigration laws that are nominally on the books, but whose enforcement is left to the executive branch alone, so that if states attempt to help the Feds to enforce laws on the books, they are illegally "pre-empting" the Federal decision to ignore the law they are ostensibly charged to enforce. You get the idea.

There appears to be nothing that the legislative branches (Federal or state) can do about this, because all the enforcement capacity is concentrated in the executive. The "balance of powers" would appear to be dead.




hombre said...

This speech was better when Ramsey Clark gave it in 1968. Of course, there was a grain of truth to it then.

I can't figure out why Holder didn't mention the 5 million or so convicted felons under cost-saving "supervision" in our communities (probation, parole, etc.), a significant portion of whom will re-offend. He must figure that doesn't cost anything because the expense, injury and heartache are borne by victims, not government.

Seeing Red said...

With all those drugs flowing across the border and amnesty looming, what else can he do?

Will "No Smoking" laws now include pot?

bpm4532 said...

While some agree that scaling back in certain things, this is the job of the legislature, not the Department of Justice. On a case-by-case basis they may show discretion, but on a broad scale, it flouts the will of Congress and the law of the land.

Par for the course. Dems seem to be establishing the doctrine that the president and his agents may not enforce laws they don't like. The next step will be for the executive to actually define laws to be enforces without Congress.

SteveR said...

Well its an already tiny area of federal enforcement, however good it sounds. A great way to say "here's a way to not enforce something you are already not enforcing".

Hagar said...

The Obama Justice Dept., or rather, the Attorney General's Office, seems to consider itself a fourth branch of government, and at that, a little more equal than the others. I don't think this is a good principle to work on.
Banning mandatorty sentences should be up to Congress, not just Eric Holder, Esq.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Will "No Smoking" laws now include pot?

A good question, actually. If there are now e-cigarettes, that deliver nicotine to the user, but nothing to anyone else, how can these be any sort of irritant to other people? Whereas joints have their share of "tar," yes?

jr565 said...

We shouldn't be too hard on drug users, but drug dealers? I don't really have that much if a problem with that. Granted, if they are just selling pot and to say, crack or meth then I don't have much of a problem going easier on them.

jr565 said...

Michelle Dulak wrote:
The NYT article on this policy this morning (prior to the speech, of course) gave the example of the mandatory minimum for possessing 5kg of cocaine. Look, if you possess 5kg of cocaine, it isn't for your own personal use, and you absolutely can be presumed to be fairly high up in the dealing business. I'm no fan of the "drug war" -- quite the contrary -- but the person carrying a quarter million's worth of blow is no innocent small-scale user.


Yes, good point. That is a LOT of coke. How many users are walking around with that much?

Henry said...

Bob Ellison, Illuniati, and the Godfather score a trifecta of common sense in the very first three comments. The war on drugs is a failure. And these three comments also name the non runner of this administration. There is no real reform without legislation. Where is the legislation?

Paul said...

So Holder is shocked blacks tend to murder more, deal drugs more, rob and steal more.

And he feels this is what? Racist to jail them? The justice system tries to place blacks on the jury for the very purpose of making the trail fair and unbiased. Yet they still go to jail in droves.

So his solution? Ignore drug laws! Lower sentences! Release felons! Ban guns!

Meanwhile the scandals Fast&Furious, FBI, NSA, IRS, & Benghazi still have no answers from Holder or Obama. But they do have an answer for blacks in jail.

David said...

Seems to make some sense, but we will see how it works out in practice.

Drugs are not some benign fun. They are a destroyer of individuals and communities.

I would have like this statement better if I thought they were serious about going after the pushers and distributors. But I do not think they are.

Mark said...

No small part of drugs being "destroyer[s] of individuals and communities" comes from the criminalization of the drugs in question. The exact same arguments were used against alcohol leading up to Prohibition, with the exact same devastation to individuals and communities following the enactment of Prohibition.

Which isn't to say alcohol doesn't still wreak havoc on certain individuals and within certain communities. But the damage is less systemic now that Prohibition is gone.

This isn't something that should be implemented by fiat by the Executive branch; the only reason it's being done at all is because Team Obama is desperate for any talking point that doesn't reek of malfeasance or incompetence. Social Cons will be happy to throw Obama in the briar patch on this one, but they're stupid to do so.

gregq said...

"certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels"

So Holder is going to let middle-class whites who are dealing drugs to make a quick buck off the hook, while continuing to go full force after black male drug gang members (and IIUC, you're much more likely to see a middle class white freelancer, than a poor black one)?

Jupiter said...

"Yes, good point. That is a LOT of coke. How many users are walking around with that much?"

Apparently, that is what Congress was thinking when they passed the mandatory sentence law. But Eric knows better, so he is going to keep certain relevant facts from the judge. Don't all good prosecutors strive to keep certain relevant facts from the judge?