President Barack Obama’s Justice Department initiated several criminal justice system reforms that the new administration is committed–actually, obsessed–with reversing. The latest example that underscores that mission happened on Tuesday in Chicago.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a lawsuit to obtain federal court oversight of the Chicago Police Department, accusing the Trump administration of reluctance to enforce police reforms, the Washington Post reports.
Madigan is trying do the Trump Justice Department’s job of following through on a consent decree negotiated between Chicago and the Obama administration.
The Trump administration on Monday ended an Obama-era ban on the transfer of surplus military equipment to police departments. Cops will once again receive military hardware, intended for war zones, to keep the peace. Their packages will include must-haves for policing communities: rocket-launchers, bayonets and armored vehicles.
Obama issued the ban after the police in Ferguson, Missouri responded with a heavy hand to quiet demonstrations. People were protesting an unfair system that allowed the White police officer, who gunned down an unarmed Black teen, to walk free without a trial.
Police department reforms
Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo directing his department to review consent decrees—like the one with the Chicago Police Department—to ensure they align with Trump’s law-and-order approach to policing.
A DOJ investigation under President Obama found a pattern of police abuses, especially in communities of color. The Obama administration launched steps to enact sweeping police reforms that are now in peril under President Trump.
War on drugs
Trump’s Justice Department has signaled a return to the ineffective and racially biased “War on Drugs” that ravished the Black community for decades. Lawmaker—on the left and right—came to see the error of the draconian policies and came to a consensus that reform was needed.
President Obama led the way by commuting excessive prison sentences for scores of federal inmates and pushing for sentencing reform. As a senator, Sessions opposed the reforms and found an ideological ally in Donald Trump.
While President Obama promoted community policing, President Trump has encouraged cops to use a heavy hand when arresting suspects. In a speech to officers and police officials in Long Island, New York, the president suggested that cops should refrain from being “too nice.”
Privately operated federal prisons
The Justice Department reversed an Obama-era directive to phase out the use of privately operated federal prisons. An audit during Obama’s presidency found a number of abuses and safety issues. But Sessions said the phase out would hinder the future needs of the federal corrections system. He clearly expects to ramp up arrests.
SOURCE: Washington Post