WASHINGTON— Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement today that he is abandoning the Department of Justice’s Smart on Crime Initiative:
“Attorney General Sessions seems to have missed the memo that the War on Drugs is over. It has destroyed low-income communities and communities of color and has failed to make our country safer. Abandoning the Smart on Crime initiative will only perpetuate mass incarceration of poor, Black, and Brown people, the explosion of federal spending on prisons, and the mushrooming of our federal prison population.
The Smart on Crime initiative saved us money, made officers, staff and communities safer by helping to reduce the population by almost 14 percent, and redirected the scarce resources of the Department of Justice to the most serious offenses.
It is abundantly clear that this Justice Department is out of touch with reality. America’s drug problem is a public health crisis, not a criminal one. The federal government should be following the lead of states that have recognized that mandatory minimum sentences will not keep us safe and begun exploring alternatives to incarceration. It is incumbent upon policymakers across the political spectrum who claim to support reform to decry this plan and work to pass bi-partisan legislation.”
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.