Obama-Era Reforms Undone by Trump Cabinet
Fact: United States incarcerates more people than any other place on the planet. By any measure, the U.S. has more people in prisons and jails than any other country on the planet: 716 per 100,000 people. That puts us “ahead” of authoritarian regimes such as Russia, Iran and the former Iraq, all of which have lower prison populations. The Washington Post reported on this in 2015, but the paper is behind some thinkers.
Michelle Alexander, an American legal scholar at Ohio State University, has been studying the issue of mass incarceration in the United States for some time. Her 2010 book, the The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – a best-seller – draws a direct line between the previous Jim Crow laws to the War on Drugs, and the resulting mass incarceration of young African Americans, particularly men.
Part of the trend stems from an effort in the 1980s to punish crack cocaine infractions – which statistically were more likely to occur in African-American areas – harsher than powder cocaine or other drugs.
This resulted in a spike in mass-incarceration, particularly among young, African-American men.
As a result, the administration of U.S. President Barak Obama sought and did enact sentencing reforms specifically aimed at reducing the U.S. Prison population, and the disparity that puts more African-Americans in prison than other races.
But those reforms are being undone by the administration of Donald J. Trump and his attorney general Jeff Sessions. According to the Huffington Post, Sessions called the harsher punishments “moral and just.”
Sessions’s “aggressive approach” against defendants will result in lengthier prison sentences for drug offenders and reverse a downward trend, according to the Huffington Post report.
The reversal is a shame, given the fact that the Obama reforms were a more enlightened approach that had begun to reduce incarceration and disparity.
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