If you were to sit down and create a checklist of how to use American law enforcement to terrorize and tear apart minority communities, you'd be hard pressed to come up with a blueprint that looks substantially different from what Attorney General Jeff Sessions is doing. In addition to reinvigorating the long-debunked "war on drugs" and almost literally telling the cops they can indulge their most racist tendencies without fear of repercussions, Sessions is busy making it easier to put hundreds of thousands of innocent men in jail:
Prosecutors applauded the April 10 announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Department of Justice was disbanding the nonpartisan National Commission on Forensic Science and returning forensic science to law enforcement control. In the same statement, Mr. Sessions suspended the department’s review of closed cases for inaccurate or unsupported statements by forensic analysts, which regularly occur in fields as diverse as firearm and handwriting identification, and hair, fiber, shoe, bite mark and tire tread matching, and even fingerprinting analysis.
Here's an unpleasant fact about forensic science: Science only works if you do it right and American law enforcement has developed a nasty habit of doing it wrong. Sometimes the "science" gets botched because they're overworked and understaffed. Sometimes they get it wrong through simple incompetence. And sometimes they get it wrong because they want to.
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.
That was not an accident. They knew exactly what they were doing and why they were doing it. Television has created an aura of infallibility around forensic science that has no basis in reality. The police and prosecutors rely on this myth to dazzle juries and secure convictions based on "evidence" they know to be garbage. That's not to say forensic science is worthless, but it only works when rigorous standards are applied.
Which is exactly what Jeff Sessions wants to prevent.
By getting rid of the nonpartisan oversight commission, Sessions is signalling that prosecutors and police labs will be free to fabricate the hell out of their evidence again. He's literally inviting systemic abuse and, prepare to be shocked, guess who that will impact the most? Law enforcement's favorite punching bag, of course: Minorities. The police already profile, arrest, prosecute and convict minorities far more often than whites; faked forensics will accelerate that trend. And that's the entire point.
If I were writing Sessions' checklist of "How to Destroy Brown and Black Lives", these would be the next things on my list:
1. Boost the Byrne Grant program by a few extra billion - The Byrne Grant is a perverse incentive that gets the police to arrest and convict the easiest drug offenders they can find, namely, poor minorities. For every person they lock up, police departments can increase the amount of federal money they receive. The trick will be finding a way to exclude opioid arrests from this program because that would affect white communities and we can't have that. The drug war is for Those People, not "real" America.
2. Make it impossibly difficult for outside groups to secure DNA exonerations - Those pesky do-gooder groups keep getting people out of jail and that just won't do. Perhaps Sessions will add so many legal hurdles to the process that it will be next to impossible to accomplish. He's already stopped in-house review of cases so now he has to stop outside meddling.
3. Bolster mandatory sentencing - Nothing fills those lucrative jail beds like mandatory 5 year sentences for a nickel bag of weed. It doesn't make the streets safer or reduce crime but it sure does keep Those People in jail long enough to destroy their future.
4. Increase the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine - The difference between crack and cocaine is how it gets used and who does the using. Black people tend to smoke it and white people tend to snort it. Guess which drug carries the heavier penalty?
I'm sure Sessions has a whole plethora of ways he plans to devastate minority neighborhoods and rejecting sound science is just the beginning. Thank goodness we got this instead of Hillary's emails. That would have just been awful.
There are 572 days left to the 2018 elections.
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