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List of key reforms of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

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Kevin Cook

Kevin Cook

"When I see the word 'reforms' in the ..."
Charles Turner

Charles Turner

"I made the edits you suggested. Next ..."
Charles Turner

Charles Turner

"Just added the section. Plenty to fle..."
jim longo

jim longo

"Sure I'll look at it."

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe on March 16, it drew rare praise from President Donald J. Trump. Trump has previously insulted Sessions on multiple occasions on Twitter for recusing himself from the FBI’s Russian probe.

McCabe’s termination comes a day after FBI’s Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, subpoenaed the Trump Organization in an investigation that McCabe believes will call him to testify(New York Times).

Sessions has faced an unusual amount of controversy in his short tenure in the Justice Department. He currently finds himself tied to the Russian probe despite efforts to keep his distance, while struggling to maintain a working relationship with the White House (The Hill). 

Yet Sessions remains Attorney General despite internal tensions in the administration. WikiTribune will be compiling a list of reforms that he’s made, or plans to accomplish while leading the Justice Department.

Prison matters

  • Bringing back “private prisons”

Reform: Reversed the Obama-era policy that banned privately-run correctional facilities for inmates who committed federal crimes.

Why it matters: Sessions said that private prisons are needed to meet the growing number of prisoners. While the federal prison population is declining, according to U.S. Courts, his comments may reflect plans to implement policy that could result in a higher incarceration rate. In May 2017, Sessions directed federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe charges where possible, reversing an Obama directive to treat non-violent drug offenses with a lighter prosecutorial hand (Guardian). 

Private prisons tend to invest less in prison staff and lack rehabilitative services, according to a 2016 study from Brookings, a liberal-leaning think tank. 

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Immigration

  • Ending “administrative closures”

Reform: Ended the ability of immigration judges to allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the country when there was no formal decision on their legal case.

Why it matters: Could make an additional 350,000 undocumented immigrants on administrative closures vulnerable to deportation (Fox News).  Immigration hardliners see administrative closures as de facto amnesty, by allowing undocumented immigrants to stay while their case is being decided. In one case, Sessions personally tried an administrative closure case.

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Drug war

  • Crackdown on cannabis 

Reform: Reversed the Obama administration’s policy that permitted states to experiment with cannabis laws. Federal authorities are now able to arrest and charge distributors of cannabis even where the practice is legal by state law.

Why it matters: Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I narcotic by the U.S. Justice Department, the category of the most illegal substances. Yet recreational use of cannabis has been legalized in nine states, and Washington D.C. Several other states allow growing cannabis for personal use, others have regulated medical sale (Vox). Under Obama, these states were assured that the federal authorities would not pursue them. Sessions has rescinded this policy, making newly established marijuana dispensaries vulnerable to prosecution. Sessions has said that marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin and considers the plant root of many of society’s ills (New York Times). However, he faces opposition from the general public as well as other Republicans such as Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of the states where cannabis has been legalized. Not only does selling marijuana violate federal law; handling the proceeds of any marijuana transaction is considered to be money laundering. Very few banks are willing to bear that risk causing businesses difficulty in operating (New York Times).

Policing

  • Reviewing “consent decrees”

Reform: The DOJ reviewing all “consent decrees,” deals where the federal government evaluates in local police departments (CNN).

Why it matters: After accusations of police brutality — particularly towards African-Americans — consent decrees were seen as a tool to retrain local law enforcement. Sessions said that they reduce police morale and hinder “broken windows” policing, the practice of cracking down on vandalism and other minor offenses under the belief that these non-violent crimes lead to more serious offenses (CNN).

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Help us list the things Jeff Sessions has done during his tenure. Add info via EDIT STORY or offer a suggestion via TALK

History for stories "List of key reforms of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General"

Select two items to compare revisions

22 March 2018

14:30:18, 22 Mar 2018 . .‎ Ed Upright (Updated → updates)

21 March 2018

14:21:52, 21 Mar 2018 . .‎ jim longo (Updated → missing word)
14:21:08, 21 Mar 2018 . .‎ jim longo (Updated → formatting remove nested bullets in secs 3 and 4, to match section 1 and 2)
07:42:36, 21 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Anderson (Updated → update)

20 March 2018

16:38:44, 20 Mar 2018 . .‎ jim longo (Updated → add to Drug War > Why it Matters)
15:23:24, 20 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → )

19 March 2018

18:12:10, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → added context to address Jonathon Miller comment)
14:14:03, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → publishing)
14:13:09, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → de-Heroing pic)
14:11:24, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → last tweak)
13:59:51, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → changing accomplishment to reform)
13:04:49, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → added links and took out "accomplishments")
12:12:49, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → AL - hold this to check neutrality)
12:05:32, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → talk to author)
12:03:53, 19 Mar 2018 . .‎ Angela Long (Updated → )

18 March 2018

05:12:39, 18 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → newsstub/listicle on jeff sessions)

Talk for Story "List of key reforms of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General"

Talk about this Story

  1. Rewrite

    When I see the word ‘reforms’ in the headline and its repetition throughout the article, I think of the common meaning and usage, ie something that changes for the better. Is that really what’s happening? It seems these are not reforms but the very opposite.

  2. Other

    Hi Charles,

    Could use a section to cover Sessions reversal of policy concerning states that are decriminalizing cannabis.

    AG who as a former supporter of “states rights” now declares that Federal Law should apply in those states.

    Some background here, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/07/opinion/jeff-sessionss-war-marijuana.html

    1. Rewrite

      This is the big one. I’ll add it, but could you elaborate on it once I do?

        1. Rewrite

          Just added the section. Plenty to flesh out. Let me know if you need any help.

  3. Other

    “While the federal prison population is declining, his comments could reflect plans to implement policy that would result in a higher incarceration rate”

    speculation, bias?? “Witnesses say they saw my cousin Killick killing crows with his new Glock9. Could the neighborhood crime rate be going up?” It’s in the same zip code.

    1. Rewrite

      Hi Jonathon- I included more links and context to support the statement. It’s not that controversial of an assertion. Sessions has already instituted policy that will likely lead to an increase in the prison population. It’s mainly come in the form of reversing Obama-era decisions.

      I’m not sure if this addresses your concerns, let me know if anything else is missing.

      1. Rewrite

        “In May 2017, Sessions directed federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe charges where possible, reversing an Obama directive to treat non-violent drug offenses with a lighter prosecutorial hand (Guardian). ”

        What a difference a sentence makes, much improved.

        I would change “his comments could reflect…” to “his comments and related actions could reflect…” to telegraph the next sentence.

        While “could” and “may” are definitionally interchangeable, “would” is too strong unless you want to back it upon with definitive studies. “may” for “could” is stylistic but has a less presumptive air. I might consider “his comments and actions may reflect plans to implement policy that could result in a higher incarceration rate”

        I also think “left-leaning” is somewhat loaded as per Wikipedia’s first paragraph on the subject, particularly the last sentence:

        Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy.[1][2][3][4] It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others (prioritarianism) as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished (by advocating for social justice).[1] The term left-wing can also refer to “the radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system”.[5]

        “liberal-leaning” may be less provocative and likely more accurate.

        1. Rewrite

          I made the edits you suggested. Next time, feel free to dig into the copy yourself.

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