This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave a speech to an audience of federal, state, and local law-enforcement officials at the U.S. District Courthouse in Memphis, Tennessee. The Attorney General reiterated his earlier promises to renew the country's “war on crime” with tough sentencing policies, promising to use “every lawful tool” of the Justice Department to "take the most violent offenders off our streets."
Sessions brought up the current opioid abuse epidemic and explained that the DoJ would attempt to control it by”securing our border” and cracking down on gangs and cartels. “If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way and be willfully blind to your conduct,” he threatened. While discussing his promises to continue the war on drugs, Sessions complained that there was “too much legalization talk and not enough prevention talk.”
The attorney general did make it clear that the DoJ was focusing on large-scale drug traffickers rather than recreational users, however. “It’s important to remember that we are not talking about low-level offenders or recreational drug users here,” he said. “These are criminals arrested with a kilogram of heroin — that is 10,000 doses — or five kilograms of cocaine, or 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.”
Following the speech, Tennessee Congressman Steven Cohen said that Sessions' remarks sounded like “something out of the '50s or '60s.” Cohen said that there is “a smart way to attack crime and there’s a dumb way to attack crime. The dumb way is to return to the era where we failed, because we locked up so many people at 30,000 a year that the only people that were happy about his approach are the private prison industry who make money out of people’s miseries and crime."