Jeff Sessions asked Congress to allow medical marijuana prosecutions
By The Washington Post
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is asking congressional leaders to undo federal medical marijuana protections that have been in place since 2014, according to a May letter that became public Monday.
The protections, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, prohibit the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent certain states "from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."
In his letter, first obtained by Tom Angell of Massroots.com and verified independently by The Washington Post, Sessions argued that the amendment would "inhibit [the Justice Department's] authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act." He continues:
I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime. The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.
Sessions's citing of a "historic drug epidemic" to justify a crackdown on medical marijuana is at odds with what researchers know about current drug use and abuse in the United States.
The epidemic Sessions refers to involves deadly opiate drugs, not marijuana. A growing body of research (acknowledged by the National Institute on Drug Abuse) has shown that opiate deaths and overdoses actually decrease in states with medical marijuana laws on the books.
That research strongly suggests that cracking down on medical marijuana laws, as Sessions requested, could perversely make the opiate epidemic even worse.
In an email, John Hudak of the Brookings Institution characterized the letter's arguments as a "scare tactic" that "could appeal to rank-and-file members or to committee chairs in Congress in ways that could threaten the future of this Amendment."
Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department also sought to undermine the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. It circulated misleading talking points among Congress to influence debate over the measure, and it attempted to enforce the amendment in a way that "defies language and logic," "tortures the plain meaning of the statute" and is "at odds with fundamental notions of the rule of law," in the ruling of a federal judge.
The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment has significant bipartisan support in Congress. Medical marijuana is incredibly popular with voters overall. A Quinnipiac poll conducted in April found it was supported by 94 percent of the public. Nearly three-quarters of voters said they disapprove of the government enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized it either medically or recreationally.
Through a spokesman, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said that "Mr. Sessions stands athwart an overwhelming majority of Americans and even, sadly, against veterans and other suffering Americans who we now know conclusively are helped dramatically by medical marijuana."
Advocates have been closely watching the Trump administration for any sign of how it might tackle the politically complex issue of marijuana legalization. Candidate Trump had offered support of state-level medical marijuana regulations, including the notion that states should be free to do what they want on the policy. But Sessions's letter, with its explicit appeal to allow the Justice Department to go after medical marijuana providers, appears to undermine that support.
The letter, along with a signing statement from President Trump indicating some skepticism of medical marijuana protections, "should make everyone openly question whether candidate Trump's rhetoric and the White House's words on his support for medical marijuana was actually a lie to the American public on an issue that garners broad, bipartisan support," said Hudak of the Brookings Institution.
How Sessions Profits from Prisons
By Jenn Budd Crooks and Liars
It's more than a conflict of interest. The more people Attorney General Jeff Sessions sends to private prisons, the more money he shoves in his pockets. From announcing he wants federal law enforcement agencies to bust people for a little bit of weed, to ordering federal prosecutors to find ways to convict more immigrants, Sessions is looking for ways to provide more clients to private prisons that are contracted by the federal government.
Sessions announced orders to expand the prosecution of undocumented workers.
Anyone caught crossing the border without inspection will no longer be charged with a misdemeanor and returned to their countries of origin. Each will now be charged with a felony and be required to be formerly deported. This process can require detention anywhere from a week to eighteen months.
Plans to increase the number of immigration judges by three-fold and prosecutors are officially under way. If immigrants return after being formerly deported, they will be subject to a felony charge of re-entry after being deportation which can result in a two year prison sentence.
Additionally, Sessions ordered prosecutors to begin charging anyone "harboring" three or more undocumented immigrants with felony harboring statutes. This will mean a father with three family members can now face years of prison time for putting a roof over his families head. The undocumented with fake or stolen ID cards used to enter the U.S. and obtain employment can now be charged with felony document fraud and aggravated identity theft. Time for these charges can be two or more years.
The increase in prosecutions will lead to an increase in convictions. The Trump administration has abandoned the Obama administration's promise to no longer contract with private prisons. Private prison companies like The GEO Group and CoreCivic Inc. lead the industry and have contracts with the federal government and specifically the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
As Attorney General Sessions fills these private prisons, he is making money. According to his latest financial disclosures required by congress, dated December 23, 2016, he divested of other investments that were found to be in conflict. In these disclosures, he also lists numerous Vanguard funds. Vanguard owns more private prison stock than any other investment management company. None of the Vanguard funds listed below were included in the divestiture.
The latest data of Vanguard funds' portfolio information is dated February 28, 2017. The following are a list of funds owned by Jeff Sessions that was from Vanguard's website:
Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Admiral Shares - consists of both GEO Group and CoreCivic, Inc. stocks worth over $164,000,000. Sessions investment value is from $15,001 - $50,000.
Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Admiral Shares - same fund as above, but Sessions lists investment value between $1,001 - $15,000.
Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund Admiral Shares - consisits of stocks from The GEO Group and CoreCivic, Inc. valued at over $173,500,000. Sessions shows investments valued from $15,000 - $50,000.
Vanguard Total International Stock Index Admiral Shares - contains GEO Holdings Corporation stock valued at over $4,400,000. Sessions owns $1,001 - $15,000 of this fund.
If he still owns these funds, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making policy that he will financially profit from. This blatant lack of morals and ethics shows once again how Sessions is not fit to be the U.S. Attorney General.
The companies CoreCivic (which until recently was known as Corrections Corporation of America), and The Geo Group, are both generous contributors to President Trump, they run the majority of the BOP's contracted prisons, as well as dozens of other facilities used to detain immigrants who are in the country illegally.
The companies' fortunes climb and fall with federal criminal justice policies. Their stocks plunged after Obama's deputy attorney general issued the phase-out memo on Aug. 18, and shot up after Donald Trump, who'd called for more private prisons, won election on Nov. 8. Since then, companies' share prices have been steadily rising — and they enjoyed a bump from Sessions' memo.
The inspector general released a report, which focused on CoreCivic's prison in Natchez, Mississippi, where a May 2012 prison riot, triggered by complaints of poor conditions, ended with a correctional officer's death. The December report found the prison "was plagued by the same significant deficiencies." CoreCivic responded that it had corrected many of its problems, and took issue with some of the methods used by government auditors.
Investigative journalists have uncovered other alleged abuses. A series in the Nation documented dozens of deaths that the magazine attributed to substandard care. And a reporter for Mother Jones went undercover as an officer at a private prison in Louisiana, vividly detailing many of the problems documented by the government audits.
Sessions crackdown on everything from medical marijuana to sanctuary churches will lead to more arrests, which in turn will result in more people in prison. Which, is why Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a six-month-old Obama administration directive that sought to curtail the government's use of private prisons.
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Jeff Sessions’ War On Drugs Is A Huge Win For Private Prisons
By Gary Bentley
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently issued new sentencing rules to help fill prisons, and his renewed attack on marijuana is certain to put more and more people behind bars. The only people who benefit from this are private prison owners, and they are currently celebrating Sessions’ moves because they know it’ll only serve to make them even richer. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.
Transcript of the above video:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it clear that his focus, as Attorney General of the United States, is going to be to renew the failed war on drugs policy within the U.S., that started under President Reagan, and all it served to do was put thousands upon thousands of people in prison for non-violent crimes, like possessing marijuana. Or, smoking marijuana. And, Jeff Sessions wants to return us to those days in the 80s, and 90s, and early 2000s when having a small amount of pot on you could land you in prison for 10 or 20 years. In fact, they’re already working on strengthening sentencing laws throughout the United States to make possession of marijuana, even give you more jail time. And, the only people who are going to benefit from any of Sessions’ drug policy here are the people who own shares in private prisons.
The people who own private prisons right now are celebrating around the clock because they understand what Jeff Sessions war on drugs means. It means more inmates, which means more federal money, which means more money in profits at the end of the year for these jackasses who run these prisons. That is the only purpose of this policy.
Now, Jeff Sessions may actually believe that marijuana is bad and we need to do something about it because he cares about the American public so much, but I doubt it. I don’t believe anything Jeff Sessions says. I don’t believe anything that comes out of the mouth of a racist, I don’t believe when a racist says that they care about the welfare of anyone in this country. Because, clearly, you don’t.
So, whatever the reasons for Jeff Sessions renewed war on drugs, it doesn’t matter because the end result is always going to be the same. We’re going to put more people in prison who don’t deserve to be in prison, and we’re going to enrich the private prison CEOs who don’t need anymore money, who provide sub-standard care for their inmates, who hire people off the street who are unqualified to be guards, who have an escape rate much higher than regular federal prisons. But, they’re the people who are going to make all the money from this.
Meanwhile, Sessions is now telling us that he and his Department of Justice might start going after States’ medical marijuana. They want to take away medical marijuana. They want to give those profits back to big Pharma. Now, Jeff Sessions, obviously, is not running for an office, the office he currently holds is not an elected one, so he doesn’t have to worry about campaign money. But, the rest of the Republican Party does. And, so, that’s why he’s going to continue to get support from the rest of the Republicans because they want that big Pharma money when Jeff Sessions kills medical marijuana laws like he wants to do. They’re going to want that money from the private prison industry when he starts packing their prisons full of people who have half an ounce of pot on them. And, that’s why they’re not going to stand up to Jeff Sessions.
Now, I don’t care if somebody smokes pot or not. It’s your personal decision. But, you can not deny the benefits that we have seen in the area’s where marijuana, both medicinal and recreational, has been legalized. State of Colorado is pulling in millions of dollars in new revenue, and tourism revenue, from legalizing marijuana. Same thing in areas of the Pacific Northwest. That’s why more and more states are moving towards this. It makes them money. It gives them money so that they can repair the roads, and bridges, and fund the teachers, and fire departments, and police officers that they need to keep their state functioning.
It’s allowing people who were addicted to painkillers and opioids to get off of them. People who suffer from chronic pain, instead of having to take a medication with dangerous side effects, can take a cannabis oil that alleviates their pain, doesn’t cause a high because it contains no THC, and gets them off of those medications that damage their liver, or damage their heart, when you have to take four or eight ibuprofen, or aspirin, or Advil, or whatever, every day.
That’s what’s happening. And, Jeff Sessions wants to take it away because he’s still living in an era, in the United States, where marijuana is some kind of gateway drug that leads you to heroine, and cocaine, and crack, and eventually death, and prison, and murder. That’s Jeff Sessions’ mindset. The United States has come a long way since we first outlawed marijuana. Unfortunately, Jeff Sessions hasn’t.
Some of the biggest backers of Donald Trump's presidency were for-profit prison operators
"Some of the biggest backers of Donald Trump's presidency were for-profit prison operators, who bask in his tough stance on illegal immigration and glowing reviews of their industry," TV One's Roland Martin explained on Monday.
"I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons; it seems to work a lot better," Donald Trump told Chris Matthews in an MSNBC town hall on March 30.
Coincidentally, it was the same town hall in which Trump refused to "take nuclear weapons off the table." But after revisiting the segment, Martin then explained how Trump's stance has since evolved into actual policy.
"Last year the Department of Justice audit found that private prison facilities have more safety and security issues then federally run prisons, which was in part why in August, President Obama ordered his Justice Department to begin phasing out their private prison contracts," Martin explained.
"Well, guess what; that has now changed," Martin continued.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions scrapped Obama's 2016 plan to phase out private prisons last Tuesday, in order to "restore (the Bureau of Prisons’) flexibility to manage the federal prison inmate population based on capacity needs,” said the Justice Department.
Additionally, Sessions insisted the memorandum "impaired the bureau's ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system."
"Therefore, I direct the bureau to return to its previous approach," Sessions said in a letter to Thomas Kane, acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Sessions' letter was not made public until Thursday. But Trump's overhaul had been in the works for months.
"When Obama made the decision [to phase out private prisons] in August, the next day, a subsidiary of GEO group, one of the nation's largest for-profit prison operators donated $100,000 dollars to the pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now," Martin explained.
"Recently, the GEO group and another prison operator, Core Civic, each gave $250,000 to support Trump inaugural festivities. Now, they are looking to profit from the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions," he added. "In fact... the day after the decision was announced by Sessions, the stock price of the companies shot up. That's how major this issue is."
Martin then turned to a panel, which included Carmen Perez (executive director of the Gathering for Justice), Lauren Victoria Burke (political analyst at NBCBLK), Christopher Metzler, PhD, (CEO, JMI Group) and Jamira Burley (human rights activist), to discuss how the industry funding Trump profits enormously from mass incarceration and slave labor.