By: Ishita Goel
December 17 2021
Jeff's order in 2017 lead to an increase in the arrest of people related to drug cases. African-Americans are incarcerated more than other races.
Jeff's order in 2017 lead to an increase in the arrest of people related to drug cases. African-Americans are incarcerated more than other races. Over the past few years, a bipartisan group of senators has been working on legislation that would reduce mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent offenders and give judges more sentencing discretion in cases involving low-level drug offenders. Even during the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder instructed the federal prosecutors not to charge someone for a drug crime that would trigger a mandatory minimum sentence if certain specific factors were met. In May 2017, in a two-page memo, Jeff Sessions instructed U.S. attorneys to charge defendants with the most severe crimes, carrying the harshest penalties. Sessions’ Department of Justice (DOJ) has reversed policies to prevent people from being jailed or imprisoned simply because they are poor and opposed sentencing reforms that would reserve the harshest punishments for the most dangerous criminals. According to the Drug Policy Alliance in 2018, nearly 25 percent of the United States prison population is primarily due to the war on drugs. African Americans and Latinos are far more likely to be criminalized than white people. One in nine African-American children has an incarcerated parent, compared to one in 28 Latino children and one in 57 white children. According to Drug War Facts, the imprisonment rate of African-American adults at year-end 2019 was more than five times that of white adults (263 per 100,000 white adult U.S. residents) and almost twice the rate of Hispanic adults (757 per 100,000 Hispanic adult U.S. residents). The imprisonment rate for African-American adults declined 3.2 percent, from 1,549 per 100,000 black adult residents at year-end 2017 to 1,500 per 100,000 at year-end 2018. The imprisonment rate of black adults decreased by 32 percent from 2009 to 2019. In 2018, the arrest due to drug abuse violations on African-Americans was 27 percent, whereas, in 2016, it was 26.7 percent, and in 2019 it reduced to 26.1 percent as documented by the U.S. Government. The studies suggest that there is an overall decrease in the prison rate in 2018. But the mass incarceration rates are still high. It was discussed that African-Americans are always highly incarcerated than other races. That is, prosecutors are twice as likely to pursue a mandatory minimum sentence for black people as white people charged with the same offense. Changes in sentencing law and policy, no changes in crime rates, explain most of this increase in mass incarceration rates. Misguided drug laws and harsh sentencing requirements have produced profoundly unequal outcomes for people of color.