Mandatory minimum sentences and ‘three strikes, you’re out’ laws on nonviolent offenders has done little to curb the illegal drug trade in our country — instead, these cruel sentencing guidelines have destroyed entire communities, disproportionally poor and of color.
Jeff Sessions' decision to move forward with his War on Drugs 2.0 and enforce draconian sentencing requirements for nonviolent drug offenders is taking us back to a time when our justice system did not treat everyone equally. It will reignite our nation's costly and shameful trend of mass incarceration at a time when both Democrats and Republicans have proposed going in the opposite direction.
Consider these disturbing facts when reflecting on the War on Drugs and mass incarceration:
1. The US has nearly 5% of the world's population, but has nearly 25% of its prisoners.
2. Since 1980, our federal prison population has exploded almost 800% — largely nonviolent drug offenders rounded up in our War on Drugs.
3. More people are in jail today for drug offenses than were incarcerated for any reason at all in 1980.
This decision to lock up nonviolent drug offenders for as long as possible will not make us safer, will increase the tremendous $100 billion of taxpayer money we already spend on our prison system annually, and will disproportionally hurt poor and minority communities.
We must speak out against Jeff Sessions' policy that clearly does not benefit the public good. The biggest beneficiary of this misguided policy will be private prison corporations — this is wrong.