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The link has the video on how great these boys think the prison system is. Video: Steven H. Cook has been tapped to help lead the national crackdown on violent crime. Here's what he said about criminal justice reform in September 2016.

How Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the war on drugs

“Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs is bad,” Sessions said to law enforcement officials in a speech in Richmond last month. “It will destroy your life.”

Advocates of criminal justice reform argue that Sessions and Cook are going in the wrong direction — back to a strategy that tore apart families and sent low-level drug offenders, disproportionately minority citizens, to prison for long sentences.

“They are throwing decades of improved techniques and technologies out the window in favor of a failed approach,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).


But Cook, whose views are supported by other federal prosecutors, sees himself as a dedicated assistant U.S. attorney who for years has tried to protect neighborhoods ravaged by crime. He has called FAMM and organizations like it “anti-law enforcement groups.”

The records of Cook and Sessions show that while others have grown eager in recent years to rework the criminal justice system, they have repeatedly fought to keep its toughest edges, including winning a battle in Congress last year to defeat a reform bill.

“If hard-line means that my focus is on protecting communities from violent felons and drug traffickers, then I’m guilty,” Cook said in a recent interview with The Post. “I don’t think that’s hard-line. I think that’s exactly what the American people expect of their Department of Justice.”

Tough on crime

When asked for a case that he was proud to work on during his three-decade career as a prosecutor, Cook points to when his office went after a crack ring operating in Chattanooga housing projects between 1989 and 1991.

This was during the height of the crack epidemic and the drug war. After the cocaine overdose of black basketball star Len Bias in 1986, Congress began passing “tough on crime” laws, including mandatory minimum sentences on certain drug and gun offenses. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed one of the toughest-ever crime bills, which included a “three strikes” provision that gave mandatory life sentences for repeat offenders.

Federal prosecutors such as Cook applauded their “new tools” to get criminals off the street.

Cook said last year: “What we did, beginning in 1985, is put these laws to work. We started filling federal prisons with the worst of the worst. And what happened next is exactly what Congress said they wanted to happen — and that is violent crime began in 1991 to turn around. By 2014, we had cut it in half.”

To bring down the Chattanooga drug ring’s leader, Victor Novene, undercover federal agents purchased crack from Novene’s underlings. Prosecutors then threatened them with long prison sentences to “flip” them to give up information about their superiors.

Cook said in March: “We made buys from individuals who were lower in the organization. We used the mandatory minimums to pressure them to cooperate.”

Cook’s office also added gun charges to make sentences even longer, another popular tool among prosecutors seeking the longest possible punishments.

With the mandatory minimum sentences and firearms “enhancements,” Novene received six life sentences. Many of his lieutenants were sentenced to between 16 and 33 years in federal prison.

But sentencing reform advocates say the tough crime policies went too far. The nation began incarcerating people at a higher rate than any other country — jailing 25 percent of the world’s prisoners at a cost of $80 billion a year. The nation’s prison and jail population more than quadrupled from 500,000 in 1980 to 2.2 million in 2015, filled with mostly black men strapped with lengthy prison sentences — 10 or 20 years, sometimes life without parole for a first drug offense.

Obama, the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, launched an ambitious clemency initiative to release certain drug offenders from prison early. And Holder told his prosecutors, in an effort to make punishments more fairly fit the crime, to stop charging low-level nonviolent drug offenders with offenses that imposed severe mandatory sentences. He called his strategy, outlined in an August 2013 report, “Smart on Crime.”

“We were discouraged from using mandatory minimums,” Cook said about Holder’s 2013 charging and sentencing memo to prosecutors. “The charging memo handcuffed prosecutors. And it limited when enhancements can be used to increase penalties, an important leverage when you’re dealing with a career offender in getting them to cooperate.”

Cook has also dismissed the idea that there is such a thing as a nonviolent drug offender.

“Drug trafficking is inherently violent. Drug traffickers are dealing in a heavy cash business,” he said on the “O’Reilly Factor” last year. “They can’t resolve disputes in court. They resolve the disputes on the street, and they resolve them through violence.”

Winning on the Hill

Cook and Sessions have also fought the winds of change on Capitol Hill, where a bipartisan group of lawmakers recently tried but failed to pass the first significant bill on criminal justice reform in decades.

The legislation, which had 37 sponsors in the Senate, including Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), and 79 members of the House, would have reduced some of the long mandatory minimum sentences for gun and drug crimes. It also would have given judges more flexibility in drug sentencing and made retroactive the law that reduced the large disparity between sentencing for crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

The bill, introduced in 2015, had support from outside groups as diverse as the Koch brothers and the NAACP. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) supported it, as well.

But then people such as Sessions and Cook spoke up. The longtime Republican senator from Alabama became a leading opponent, citing the spike in crime in several cities.

“Violent crime and murders have increased across the country at almost alarming rates in some areas. Drug use and overdoses are occurring and dramatically increasing,” said Sessions, one of five members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who voted against the legislation. “It is against this backdrop that we are considering a bill . . . to cut prison sentences for drug traffickers and even other violent criminals, including those currently in federal prison.”

Cook testified that it was the “wrong time to weaken the last tools available to federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents.”

After GOP lawmakers became nervous about passing legislation that might seem soft on crime, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“Sessions was the main reason that bill didn’t pass,” said Inimai M. Chettiar, the director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “He came in at the last minute and really torpedoed the bipartisan effort.”

Now that he is attorney general, Sessions has signaled a new direction. As his first step, Sessions told his prosecutors in a memo last month to begin using “every tool we have” — language that evoked the strategy from the drug war of loading up charges to lengthen sentences.

And he quickly appointed Cook to be a senior official on the attorney general’s task force on crime reduction and public safety, which was created following a Trump executive order to address what the president has called “American carnage.”

“If there was a flickering candle of hope that remained for sentencing reform, Cook’s appointment was a fire hose,” said Ring, of FAMM. “There simply aren’t enough backhoes to build all the prisons it would take to realize Steve Cook’s vision for America.”

Sessions is also expected to take a harder line on the punishment for using and distributing marijuana, a drug he has long abhorred. His crime task force will review existing marijuana policy, according to a memo he wrote prosecutors last week. Using or distributing marijuana is illegal under federal law, which classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug, the same category as heroin, and considered more dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamine.

In his effort to resurrect the practices of the drug war, it is still unclear what Sessions will do about the wave of states that have legalized marijuana in recent years. Eight states and the District of Columbia now permit the recreational use of marijuana, and 28 states and the District have legalized the use of medical marijuana.

But his rhetoric against weed seems to get stronger with each speech. In Richmond, he cast doubt on the use of medical marijuana and said it “has been hyped, maybe too much.”

Sessions’s aides stress that the attorney general does not want to completely upend every aspect of criminal justice policy.

“We are not just sweeping away everything that has come before us.” said Robyn Thiemann, the deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy, who is working with Cook and has been at the Justice Department for nearly 20 years. “The attorney general recognizes that there is good work out there.”

Still, Sessions’s remarks on the road reveal his continued fascination with an earlier era of crime fighting.

In the speech in Richmond, he said, “Psychologically, politically, morally, we need to say — as Nancy Reagan said — ‘Just say no.’ ”



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First of 32 men charged in Chattanooga area federal crack case pleads guilty

January 15th, 2014by Todd Southin Local Regional News

On Tuesday, the first of 32 men charged in a federal drug conspiracy and dubbed the "worst of the worst" following a November news conference pleaded guilty in federal court.

He won't be alone for long.

Today the second guilty plea is scheduled, with six more defendants having filed paperwork in recent weeks to do the same.

Federal judges have set trial dates for 19 of the men. The earliest is scheduled for Jan. 31. There are indications that more people may be arrested and added to the federal cases, the investigation of which began in 2009.


At a Nov. 4, 2013, news conference unveiling an ongoing four-year federal crack-cocaine conspiracy investigation, officials called the 32 indicted men the "worst of the worst" criminals in the Chattanooga area and pointed to the local-federal partnership as indicative of future crime-fighting efforts. The Times Free Press has researched the criminal histories of the men charged and will follow developments in each of their cases as they work through the court system.


Guy L. Wilkerson, Jr.

These 32 men that authorities have called the...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Guy L. Wilkerson Jr., 20, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison but will likely receive less as federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a reduced sentence in exchange for his plea.

Outside federal court after the hearing, Wilkerson's mother had little information and a lot of questions.

"I don't understand how they're 32 out of 32 worst of the worst and there's still stuff going on," said Yoalanda Satterwhite. "Folks are getting killed out here. People's houses still get shot up."

Satterwhite said she has visited her son in the Hamilton County Jail and she worries that he's not getting medication for his diagnosed mental conditions.

Her nephew, Derrick L. Smith, 22, is scheduled to plead guilty to a single charge of intent to distribute crack cocaine.

Six other men have either reached plea agreements or filed paperwork to do so -- Rahmon Christian, Donte Taylor, Kentarius Nealy, Shannon D. Mitchell, Rodney Harris II and Torrey Gilmore.

Harris faces not more than 20 years in prison, with no minimum required. Nealy faces a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 40. Gilmore faces at least eight years with a maximum of life in prison. Mitchell faces a 10-year minimum and a maximum of life.

On Tuesday no plea agreements had been filed for Taylor or Christian that would have given more detailed sentencing information.

In numerous letters and online comments to the Times Free Press and in public meetings and forums, community members have decried the "worst of the worst" label of the men charged in the drug conspiracy. They've pointed out that all of the men charged are black.

Multidefendant cases with suspects numbering in the dozens are not rare in federal court. And drug conspiracy cases involving methamphetamine are regularly prosecuted involving multiple all-white defendants.

The difference, authorities say, is the city's large number of shootings, violence often associated with the crack cocaine trade.

It was at the Nov. 4, 2013, news conference where representatives including Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, the City Council, police department, Hamilton County District Attorney's office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, FBI, DEA and U.S. attorney's office unveiled the investigation.

Immediately following the news conference, then-Chattanooga police chief Bobby Dodd called the suspects the "worst of the worst" and predicted less local crime as a result of the roundup.

Berke pointed to the local-federal partnership that brought indictments against the 32 men as an example of future crime-fighting efforts and the possible penalty for Chattanooga-area criminals under his Violence Reduction Initiative.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke speaks to the media...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

The initiative is modeled after the High Point, N.C., community-policing strategy used over the course of nearly two decades to reduce violent crime in that city and replicated in other cities across the nation.

The program combines "get tough" policing on repeat violent offenders with community outreach including job training and assistance for those who want to leave the criminal life.

But at a Dec. 19 Times Free Press-sponsored forum, community members called the "worst of the worst" roundup counterproductive, racist and said it did not offer alternatives for career criminals.

The start of the investigation predates Berke's run for mayor and VRI announcement by nearly four years.

Times Free Press research into previous criminal histories of the named co-defendants showed that they have been connected to 103 assaults, 14 attempted murders, 27 robberies, two murders, 160 drug offenses, 42 weapons-related charges and hundreds of lesser crimes.

The federal cases show that of the 32, four face weapons charges, one of which involves an alleged carjacking. Nearly all face the charge of conspiracy, meaning prosecutors believe they planned to make or sell crack cocaine. Prosecutors say in court documents they have evidence that at least 15 of the 32 sold crack. One defendant was charged with distributing marijuana.

Wilkerson admitted in his plea agreement that Drug Enforcement Administration agents intercepted 15 drug-related phone calls involving him in a one-month period. He said he bought powder cocaine by the ounce and cooked it into crack-cocaine to resell.

He has one previous conviction of unlicensed weapons possession in Tennessee state court.

Court documents for Smith, scheduled to plead guilty today, show that on June 23, 2013, Chattanooga police arrested him with 11 grams of crack, $920 cash and a set of digital scales. He also faces a maximum sentence of 20 years but will likely receive less due to his plea.

Smith has Tennessee convictions that include drug possession, a driver's license violation and contraband in a penal institution.

Contact staff writer Todd South at or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

sunnubian posted:

Of course there are no White drug dealers or other criminals in Chattanooga. 

Largely White Opioid Epidemic Highlights Black Frustration

Of all deaths in 2015 from opioid and heroin overdoses in Tennessee and nationwide, about 90 percent of the people were white.


By KEVIN McKENZIE, The Commercial Appeal

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The circle of patients gathered for group therapy at a doctor's family practice in McKenzie could well represent the face of the state's opioid epidemic.

They were in a small city in a rural county, fertile ground for prescription drug addiction, though they traveled from as far as Nashville and Missouri. They were young or middle-aged and ranged from blue-collar workers to businesspeople. They said painkillers prescribed after accidents or injuries paved the way to their dependence on opioids.

They also were all white.

Of all deaths in 2015 from opioid and heroin overdoses in Tennessee and nationwide, about 90 percent of the people were white.


Black people accounted for little more than 6 percent in Tennessee and 8 percent across the country, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Among African-Americans critical of the modern drug war launched four decades ago by President Richard Nixon, the fact that the opioid epidemic is primarily striking the majority race helps explain why it is largely being called an epidemic and treated as a public health crisis, rather than a war.

"Look at the inner city, it's always been what we consider an epidemic," said the Rev. Ralph White, pastor of Bloomfield Full Gospel Baptist Church in Memphis.

"If this had been the case in other areas, the community would have been crying out long ago," White said. "But now that it's taking the lives of European Americans, we find that it's at a time of crisis."

Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown University sociology professor as well as minister and author, offered a similar view after an appearance in February at the University of Memphis.


"White brothers and sisters have been medicalized in terms of their trauma and addiction. Black and brown people have been criminalized for their trauma and addiction," said Dyson, whose latest book is "Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America."

Doctors and other health care professionals certainly are calling for a health care-led response to the opioid epidemic.

Their strategies include curbing use of painkillers like oxycodone, making wider use of medications to treat opioid dependence as a chronic disease, and increasing mental health services and therapy to attack root causes of addictions.

"I would say the good news in Tennessee is that the number of narcotic units prescribed has gone down by almost half," said Dr. Daniel Sumrok, the physician treating patients at his practice in McKenzie, a West Tennessee city with a population of more than 5,500 about 130 miles northeast of Memphis.

"The bad news is that overdose deaths have gone up and oxycodone has gone up," said Sumrok, also director of the Center for Addiction Science at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center based in Memphis.

Ironically, physician under-treatment of pain for black patients may have helped prevent higher opioid addiction among African-Americans, experts and studies suggest.

Sumrok and other health care professionals are careful not to paint the current drug crisis in terms of rich or poor, urban or rural, black or white.

"My patients are district attorneys and teachers and nurses and doctors," he said. "They're not what you might think of as a TV bum; they're people who have real lives, real jobs, real families, real values who found themselves opiate dependent and need some help."


Still, when it comes to race, clear differences emerge.

The National Institutes of Health recently warned that yearly percent increases in deaths among white Americans ages 25 to 30 from 1999 to 2014 rose at rates comparable to the onset of the nation's AIDS epidemic or in Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Premature deaths for African-American, Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islanders continued to decline.

Drug overdoses, suicide and liver disease are stoking the alarming rise in premature accidental white deaths, as well as among American Indians and Alaskan natives, the study found.

"In high-income countries you expect us to make progress over time, you expect the death rate to decrease, you expect life expectancy to increase," said Meredith Shiels, a National Cancer Institute researcher and lead author of the study. "So when something comes in and reverses that, and suddenly the mortality rate is increasing in any given group, that's an alarm that there is something very serious and epidemic going on," Shiels said.

Statewide statistics for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services point to differences between the illegal drugs by race.

For 2015, white Tennesseans made up 89.5 percent of 839 people treated primarily for heroin and 95 percent of 4,071 treated for prescription opioids, according to the department.

Black Tennesseans made up 62 percent of 1,176 treated for cocaine or crack and 45 percent of 2,065 in treatment for marijuana use.

The nation's previous heroin crisis struck during the Vietnam War era, giving rise to the drug war and "just say no" responses to what was viewed a criminal behavior epidemic, said Dr. Altha Stewart, a psychiatrist and director of the Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth at UTHSC.


"It was considered acceptable that drugs were within the purview of people who were already morally corrupt anyway and so these were things that they did to themselves and you could not rehabilitate them, you had to incarcerate them," Stewart said.

For today's opioid crisis, policymakers are more likely to have experienced, children or grandchildren taking grandma's pain medicine and then shifting to cheaper heroin on the street, said Stewart, who is slated to become the first African-American president of the American Psychiatric Association in mid-2018.

"I think that the fact that the people who are experiencing are also the people who are responsible for shaping the policy, there is a natural inclination, I think, to see it differently and to respond to it differently," she said.

The opioid crisis also finds medicine and addiction science becoming better equipped to respond, with advances in brain imaging, genetics and epidemiology, Sumrok said.

The UTHSC Center for Addiction Science provides an example. It was named the nation's first Center of Excellence in Addiction Medicine last fall for its unusually broad efforts to combat addiction through research and use of basic science, treatment, community outreach and medical education across all specialties.

Sumrok and Stewart highlighted the importance of trauma, measured by adverse childhood experiences research, as a game-changing route to treatment and prevention.

"I personally see compulsive use disorders as a byproduct of trauma," Sumrok said. "Trauma can take many forms; it can be physical, verbal, sexual, abuse. It can be divorce in a family, it can be incarceration in a family, it can be another family member that's actively using drugs or a problematic drinker."


With enough trauma, to help survive a brain chemical called dopamine involved in triggering pleasure and reward takes over, he said.

"Remember, what we're talking about here is a hijacked normal human response that helps you survive," he said. "Dopamine says to you, 'Let's do that again,' and you can't help it."

Stewart said adopting the science treatment, as well as identifying youths who may be at risk of incarceration, is a "no-brainer."

"There is the role for us; we can get out ahead of this," Stewart said.

Sumrok said that poverty and the decline of well-paying manufacturing jobs are trauma generators shared by Tennessee's urban areas like Memphis and its rural areas like McKenzie.

In Memphis, whether the opioid crisis leads to more treatment-oriented policies and an end to the drug war is an open question for White.

"It might, if they use it to cover every drug addiction, not just opioid addiction or prescription medicines, if they look at that young guy on the street who is hooked on crack and include him in the process of healing," White said. "That would be great."


Information from: The Commercial Appeal,

What Jeff Sessions' Prosecutor Days in Alabama Portend for the DOJ's New War on Crime

Trump's attorney general brings his own brand of Alabama justice to Washington.


At the height of the war on drugs, a few quirks of geography conspired to place Mobile, Alabama, at the center of the action. Interstate 10, which runs through downtown, was a major drug trafficking route, carrying cocaine out west and marijuana back east. Seafaring smugglers ferrying drugs through international waters were sometimes tried in the Gulf Coast port city's federal courthouse, where the top prosecutor was a zealous young US attorney named Jeff Sessions.

Sessions prioritized drug cases of all sizes, taking on prosecutions typically left to state authorities and often meting out long federal sentences. According to an analysis by the Mobile Register, Sessions' policies helped southern Alabama establish a federal drug conviction rate that was almost four times the national average.

It was one such drug case that brought Miami defense lawyer Edward Shohat to the Mobile courthouse in the early 1980s. His client had helped mastermind an operation to smuggle nearly 30,000 pounds of marijuana from Colombia on a shrimping boat, but everything went wrong before the boat's crew was discovered in Mobile Bay, floating on a bale of marijuana. Still, it wasn't just the bizarre details of the case that Shohat remembers all these years later. What stands out in his memory is Sessions, who, according to three lawyers present, entered the courtroom during jury selection dressed in a military uniform and sat down at the prosecution's table.

"It was so over the top," says Alan Ross, one of the attorneys there that day. As Shohat and Ross recall, the judge ultimately sent Sessions—then a captain in the US Army Reserve—home to change. "Was he trying to prejudice the jury in some way with his military uniform?" says Shohat. "I suspect he was."

The strange scene, shortly into Sessions' tenure as the US attorney for southern Alabama, presaged years of less theatrical but more consequential displays of his willingness to put his thumb on the scales of justice in order to achieve his goals, sometimes through prosecutions that appeared politically motivated.

"Now Jeff Sessions owns every federal grand jury in America," Shohat says ruefully. "Don't get me indicted."

Born in Selma in 1946, Jefferson Beau­regard Sessions III was raised in Hybart, a speck of a town in Alabama's Black Belt, so named for its rich soil. The majority-African American area had long been a hotbed of voter suppression, where whites intimidated black sharecroppers or misreported their votes. The state's 1901 constitution effectively disenfranchised African Americans through a combination of poll taxes, literacy tests, property requirements, and screening for past offenses such as vagrancy. As the leader of the state's constitutional convention explained at the time, "If we would have white supremacy, we must establish it by law—not by force or fraud." When Sessions attended the segregated Wilcox County High School, not a single African American in the county was registered to vote.

In contrast to the Black Belt, coastal Mobile entered the 20th century as one of the South's most tolerant cities, even electing a Jewish mayor in 1911. But World War II changed Mobile, as rural whites flocked to the city's shipyards, docks, and aircraft plant in search of jobs, bringing with them a racial and religious conservatism.

By the 1970s, when Sessions moved to Mobile not long after getting his law degree, the city had become a stronghold of George Wallace, the state's segregationist Democratic governor. Whereas municipal governments in Alabama's other major cities integrated, it took the US Supreme Court to bring black representation to Mobile's city council. The last recorded lynching in the United States took place in Mobile in 1981, when the Ku Klux Klan kidnapped a 19-year-old African American named Michael Donald, slit his throat, and hung him from a camphor tree. Mobile had become a city of both old-money aristocracy and white-grievance populism—a sort of proto-Trumpism that explains why Donald Trump held one of his first mega-rallies, in August 2015, in Mobile, with Sessions at his side.

"Now Jeff Sessions owns every federal grand jury in America," Shohat says ruefully. "Don't get me indicted."

In coming to Mobile, Sessions had retraced the steps of other rural whites before him. "In North Alabama, where the knowledge economy is centered, that's the Republican establishment," says Alabama historian Wayne Flynt. "They never liked Jeff Sessions very much. Too many connections to race, to right-wing conservatism, to the white evangelical rabble-rousers."

At the time, Alabama was in the middle of a political upheaval. Segregationist Democrats had long been in charge, but the national party had taken up the cause of civil rights, prompting Republicans to embrace Richard Nixon's Southern strategy—backing the discriminatory status quo to win the votes of Southern Democrats. It was with this strategy that Sessions, who had led the pro-Nixon Alabama Young Voters for the President group while in law school, appeared to align himself.

As a US attorney, Sessions found himself at the intersection of the dual roles the federal government played in Alabama. "On civil issues and on social justice issues, people have looked to the federal courts for refuge," explains J. Mark White, a prominent trial lawyer in Birmingham. "The contrast to that is the feeling that perhaps the federal government, on the criminal side, has been overly aggressive and maybe, some even say, politicized." Throughout his career, Sessions has embodied that dichotomy, employing the heavy hand of government in criminal prosecutions while sometimes appearing wary of defending civil rights.

In 1965, a Baptist deacon in Marion, Alabama, named Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot and beaten to death by state troopers following a protest for voting rights. His killing helped spur the march from Selma to Montgomery, the "Bloody Sunday" showdown on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. But even once they could vote, African Americans in the Black Belt struggled to get their candidates elected to local government councils and school boards.

So community organizers, led by Albert Turner, a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr., started teaching African Americans to vote absentee in order to boost turnout, particularly among elderly voters struggling to make it to the polls, which in some places were open for only four hours. In 1982, local candidates backed by Turner and his allies finally won. Two years later, Sessions began investigating absentee ballot use by African Americans in five rural counties where black voters' influence was ascendant. He charged Turner, Turner's wife, and another organizer—known as the Marion Three—with mail and voter fraud for allegedly tampering with ballots. During the trial, his case fell apart, and the jury found the three activists not guilty.

The case became a major issue for Sessions a year later, when President Ronald Reagan nominated him to a federal judgeship. A Senate committee blocked his nomination amid allegations of racism stemming in part from his targeting of the Marion Three. To his critics, Sessions' handling of the case was as damning as the fact that he had prosecuted it. He could have convened a grand jury in Selma, just down the road from Marion. Instead, it was convened in Mobile, 160 miles away, where the jury would be whiter. Some of the witnesses, elderly black voters, had to board buses in the presence of armed police and FBI officers, mere feet from where state troopers had killed Jackson 20 years earlier. Once in Mobile, the witnesses were photographed and fingerprinted, Turner testified. Several were so shaken by the process that they said they would never vote again. (E.T. Rolison, who worked on the prosecution as an assistant US attorney, says grand juries had generally convened in Mobile and denies that the witnesses were photographed and fingerprinted. Sessions' office declined to comment for this story.)

"This was not just about the prosecuting of a case," says Alabama state Sen. Hank Sanders, who was involved in the defense of the Marion Three. "It was all kind of other symbolism involved…It was trying to get people to be scared to say anything other than what the law enforcement wanted them to say at the grand jury. And also to send a message out to the community, and to get people to be afraid to stand up and fight back, to be afraid to vote."

Sessions presented himself as a crusader against graft, frequently prosecuting Mobile officials, often Democrats, who were still dominant in the 1980s. "He's one of the few that is not corrupt," says Thomas Gallion, an attorney in the state capital of Montgomery. But the flimsy evidence for some of these prosecutions drew accusations that Sessions was motivated by politics.

Shortly after Sessions was denied the federal judgeship, his office charged two African Americans who played a role in his confirmation hearings: one who had testified against him, and another whom Sessions had allegedly called a racial slur. The first was acquitted; the second spent more than five years in prison but continues to deny any wrongdoing. "I considered that, 'How dare you? You testified against me,'" says Sanders. Sessions charged at least half a dozen Democratic politicians in Mobile, often during campaigns and with questionable evidence, according to a report in the Guardian.


Religious and civil rights leaders in Selma, Alabama, prepare to walk toward the Edmund Pettus Bridge during a march to Montgomery on March 7, 1965. Among those pictured are Hosea Williams (fore left, in dark coat) and John Lewis (fore right, in light coat); behind them are Albert Turner (in white cap) and Robert Mants (taller man).

n 1994, when Sessions was running for state attorney general, reporters obtained flight records showing that the Democratic governor, Jim Folsom, had flown to the Cayman Islands on the private plane of a local dog-track owner. Sessions used the revelation to attack his rival, incumbent state Attorney General Jimmy Evans, for going easy on Folsom, and the episode helped topple both Folsom and Evans.

After the election, Gallion filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit on behalf of a state employee with an explosive allegation: FBI agents working on behalf of Sessions' campaign had helped obtain the flight records. Affidavits filed by Gallion's client and another state employee contended that Sessions had assisted in planning the operation. A private investigator who did work for Sessions' campaign admitted to tracking down the flight records and receiving $3,000 to cover his expenses, but he didn't disclose who had made the payment and denied that Sessions had approved the operation. An FBI agent allegedly involved in obtaining the records had worked on several of Sessions' investigations into Democratic officials and was later hired by Sessions to work in the attorney general's office. Gallion tried to get the US attorney to investigate the alleged FBI misconduct, but the prosecutor, who had worked with Sessions on an anti-corruption probe, never pressed charges. Today, Gallion, who can rattle off the minutiae of every Alabama political scandal, says he doesn't recall the details of the case. (Several lawyers once critical of Sessions seem reluctant to say a bad word about him now that he is attorney general.) Although Sessions has said he had "no involvement whatsoever" in obtaining the flight records, the episode raised questions about his willingness to tap his relationship with the FBI for political gain. It's a troubling backdrop for the man who now oversees the bureau, given that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign even as the bureau remains under a cloud for politically motivated leaks that helped the president win the 2016 election.

Installed in Montgomery as Alabama's attorney general, Sessions promised to pursue corruption cases, and it wasn't long before a big one fell into his lap. A whistleblower claimed that Tieco, a Birmingham industrial equipment company, was defrauding a client. Sessions declared the case "of the most magnitude that the Attorney General's office has undertaken in the last twenty-five years." The next year, Sessions' prosecutors convinced a grand jury to hand down 222 charges against Tieco. Sessions, running for US Senate, hyped the indictments, boasting, "I have committed this office to vigorously investigate corporate white-collar crime."

In reality, the case against Tieco was shoddily knit—once the defense began pulling at its threads, it unraveled completely.

The case originated when Sessions was approached by Victor Hayslip, an attorney representing the whistleblower. Sessions' office obtained a sweeping warrant for Tieco's business records and assigned former FBI agents now working for the state to investigate the case. Sessions then began a bizarre collaboration with United States Steel, Tieco's alleged victim, by sharing Tieco's records with the company. Armed with inside information, US Steel (which had also been represented by Hayslip) launched its own lawsuit against Tieco. (A federal judge ultimately threw out US Steel's claims.) US Steel's lawyers also assisted Sessions' office on the criminal prosecution, and the company even offered to help pay for the state's investigation. Hayslip's firm and US Steel both contributed to Sessions' Senate campaign, and Sessions later appointed Hayslip to a temporary deputy attorney general post.

Jeff Sessions at a mock swearing-in ceremony  Tom Williams/Congressional
Sensing that Sessions' office was withholding evidence that could exonerate Tieco, the judge took a highly unusual step and ordered it to turn over all its files in the case to Tieco's lawyers. They revealed wrongdoing by Sessions' office throughout the investigation, including the withholding of exculpatory evidence. The state dropped dozens of the charges. Citing prosecutorial misconduct, the judge dismissed the rest and wrote a brutal opinion slamming Sessions' office. Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University School of Law, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in January that the opinion was "the most scathing criticism of a prosecutorial office I have read in the nearly 40 years I have been teaching legal ethics."

"It's all a charade," says Bennett Gershman, an expert on prosecutorial misconduct who reviewed the case at the behest of Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of Sessions' confirmation as attorney general. "It got him to the Senate."

When the judge's searing opinion came down in 1997, Sessions, by then a senator, responded indignantly. "Charges like 'prosecutorial misconduct' offend me," he told the Montgomery Advertiser. He spun the case as a parable about prosecutors being "abused by defense lawyers" and attacked the judge for being "a hostile judge from Day One."

Gershman and Gillers regard Sessions' pursuit of Tieco with horror. "This case epitomized the worst prosecutorial misconduct that you could imagine," Gershman says. The attorney general, Gillers adds, "sets a tone. And the concern is that Sessions, as attorney general of Alabama, did not create an atmosphere in which the lawyers who worked for him appreciated the special responsibilities that come with prosecutorial power. Now, moving to the Department of Justice, a bad tone can hurt a lot of people."

From the moment he became US attorney general, Sessions has been embroiled in controversy. He was forced to recuse himself from any investigation of the 2016 presidential campaign following revelations that he had met with the Russian ambassador during the campaign and misled Congress about it. And his Justice Department has so far failed to successfully defend Trump's ban on travelers from several majority-Muslim nations. Trump's presidency will also present myriad potential conflicts of interest, testing Sessions' commitment to rooting out malfeasance, a promise that helped him get elected as Alabama's attorney general.

Sessions has already begun to pull the department back from civil rights enforcement. In late February, Sessions delivered remarks to a few dozen Justice Department employees to mark the end of Black History Month. Whereas Eric Holder, the first African American attorney general, had packed the Great Hall at the department's Washington headquarters for his first such address in 2009, Sessions held his in a seventh-floor room, and his remarks lasted barely four minutes. He began by invoking his roots in rural Alabama. "Even in my lifetime, I saw discrimination firsthand," he said, adding that "the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were pivotal points in our history."

But the previous day, Sessions' Justice Department had stopped the government's push against a Texas voter ID law—signaling the administration's reluctance to vigorously enforce the Voting Rights Act. And just hours before his Black History Month remarks, Sessions, harking back to his days as a young prosecutor, had told a gathering of state attorneys general that he planned to increase the number of federal prosecutions for drug crimes. It signaled a return to Reagan-era tough-on-crime policies that reformers, including many Republicans, now say unfairly target minority communities. "He ran it [like] what it was, a powerful machine that grinds people down," says Domingo Soto, a liberal defense lawyer in Mobile, of the US attorney's office under Sessions.

It seems that Sessions' philosophy hasn't changed much since his days in Mobile. "If I were attorney general," he told the Mobile Register two decades ago, "the first thing I'd do is see if I couldn't increase prosecutions by 50 percent." Now, he has the chance to make his vision come true.


Pema Levy is a reporter at Mother Jones. Reach her at plevy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

Mother Jones is a nonprofit, and stories like this are made possible by readers like you. or to help fund independent journalism.

Sessions is just one of the many GLARINGLY RACIST reasons that makes ANY Black person that voted for Trump is a damn fool, a damn COON on steroids, a STOCKHOLM SYNDROME Zombie, a racial sadomachistic clown.

But, even the Black people that didn't vote for Trump are not connecting-the-dots to Trump filling his administration with some of the most racist people in America, as if, out of ALL the qualified people in America, Trump choosing to put Racist Hate-mongers and racist psychopaths in positions of power, was just mere happenstance.  


DennisKalita posted:

Think on this. Roy Cohn, considered a cold and ruthless operator, was a mentor to Trump. Cohn said of Trump: "He pisses ice water!"  

That's serious. 



A sociopath is incapable of feelings such as empathy, regret, and remorse. She doesn't experience emotional pain herself; thus, she can't understand the expression of those feelings in others. Sociopaths don't have feelings or emotions, nor dosociopaths cry genuinely.

Sociopaths Don't Have Feelings

A sociopath, by definition, views the entire world as his party. It's his shin-dig, and he'll cry if he wants to. Indeed, crying or any other emotion is nothing more than a choice. If an emotion serves to gain him something, he'll use it. Otherwise, he's unemotional.

There's a difference between having feelings and expressing feelings. Do sociopaths have feelings? With few exceptions, no they do not. They do, however, express feelings.

High-functioning sociopaths are extremely skilled at faking emotion. Depending on the party and attendees, he manipulates by expressing a range of human emotion: happiness, joy, excitement, incredulity, shock, disappointment, sadness, and grief. If he wants to, a sociopath can cry. These false feelings are purely superficial. Non-sociopaths feel things on an emotional level as well as on a physical level. No butterflies flutter in a sociopath's stomach. He never feels his heart race in anticipation or pound in fear.

The shallow and insincere expressions of feeling are mere tools used by a sociopath to entrap people. This makes it effortless for her to take advantage of people, to use them for her own personal gain, and to hurt them physically, emotionally, or both. A sociopath is incapable of feelings such as empathy, regret, and remorse. She doesn't experience emotional pain herself; thus, she can't understand the expression of those feelings in others.

Sociopaths don't have feelings or emotions, nor do sociopaths cry genuinely. However, they do experience proto-emotions, primitive emotions that rear their ugly heads in moments of perceived need. The sociopath is quite capable of intense anger, fru)[0],a.a, and rage.

  • Sociopath M.E. Thomas (2013) describes suddenly experiencing a flash of anger that then leaves as quickly as it arrives. She doesn't forget what angered her; instead, her rage morphs into "a sense of calm purpose" (How Abusers Gain Control By Appearing To Lose It). A sense of purpose for a sociopath means that some unsuspecting person has a target on his back.
  • James Fallon is a neurobiologist who studies the sociopathic brain. He also happens to be a sociopath (he uses the term psychopath). In discussing his own anger, he says, "...and when I pop it's fierce, and frightening [to others]" (2013).

Why Don't Sociopaths Cry or Even Have Feelings?

One of the causes of antisocial personality disorder (the clinical diagnostic term for sociopathy) is biological in nature. There are issues in the brain ielixf that affect processing and responses to stimuli. This could answer the question, "Can a sociopath change?" with an unfortunate "no." However, these organic sociopathic causes provide at least a partial explanation for why sociopaths don't have feelings.

Brain scans and imaging such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans and electroencephalogram (EEG) tests show that the sociopathic brain doesn't register emotional words and pictures the way a "normal" brain does.

  • The brain of a sociopath is unable to grasp abstract concepts such as love.
  • All words and concepts like emotions are merely words. This makes thinking concrete. A word is nothing but a word whether that word is "dog" or "grief."
  • Sociopaths aren't stupid, and high-functioning sociopaths are highly intelligent. They know the meaning of the words for feelings like love, glee, anxiety, etc. However, they know these abstract concepts only on a concrete level, and this makes it impossible to fully experience them.

Do sociopaths cry? They cry if they want to. Do sociopaths have feelings? Beyond primitive emotions like anger and rage, sociopaths don't have feelings. Remarkably, their social skills are so honed, so highly developed, that no one can tell. Everyone else at a sociopath's party feels emotion. What the sociopath cannot feel in himlixf, he elicits in others.

- See more at:
Unlike most murderers, who act in the heat of a passion, and later feel guilty about what they have done, psychopaths feel no such remorse. So far, the dominant understanding of psychopathy was that they basically lack emotions such as fear or distress. ... Empathy is key to our normal moral development.Jul 24, 2013

Inside the Mind of a Psychopath – Empathic, But Not Always

Brain imaging shows psychopaths can empathize but do not empathize spontaneously
Posted Jul 24, 2013

13 Signs You’re Dealing with a Psychopath

The word psychopath might evoke the image of a serial killer or fictionalized villain, but knowing these psychopathic signs can help you notice if you’re dealing with one on a daily basis.


What is a psychopath, exactly?


In his leading book on psychopaths—Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us—Robert Hare, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, says a conservative estimate of the number of psychopaths in the United States is 2 million. While it’s easy to label an unpleasant coworker or an adulterous ex a psychopath, how can you tell the difference between someone truly psychopathic and someone who’s just a jerk? Keep reading for key psychopath symptoms, but remember that a few signs does not a psychopath make. A proper diagnosis can only be given by a medical professional. “Anything else is speculation,” warns Robert Schug, PhD, a neurocriminologist and clinical psychologist specializing in the biology and psychology of the criminal mind.


Psychopaths get bored easily


A psychopath is not just under-stimulated because of an uneventful day at work or a weekend night stuck at home, but he or she faces chronic boredom across all facets of their lives. One common hypothesis is that psychopaths are hardwired to be more under-aroused than other people. “A psychopath’s nervous system is wired so they need to keep doing exciting things to feel normal and reach normal levels of arousal,” says Schug. According to psychologist Randall Salekin, PhD, this means that they’re also the ones in a group most likely to initiate fun-oriented activities, such as suggest post-work drinks.

Psychopaths are VERY charming


Perhaps one of the most disarming aspects of interacting with psychopaths is their ability to conceal their true selves in order to appear as likeable as possible. “He or she easily picks out topics that are important to us and reflects sympathetic points of view, sometimes complete with enthusiasm or ‘emotion’ to reinforce the spoken words,” say Paul Babiak and Robert Hare in their book, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work. This is not just directed at individuals, but can manifest in groups. Salekin says that they use their storytelling abilities to draw others to them, whether that’s at work or in jail. “They’re able to gather a crowd around them at the water cooler,” he says. However, while a psychopath’s stories might be interesting, that doesn’t mean they’re true.


Psychopaths lie a lot


Unlike pathological liars, who lie without motivation and sometimes without need, a psychopath’s lies are more goal-directed. They typically use conning and manipulation for their own gain. “It’s more about getting something from somebody else,” says Schug. “Tricking somebody out of their stuff or into an emotional connection.” This could be used to get a promotion at work, build a relationship, or control a romantic partner. Here are clues you can use to spot when someone’s lying.

Psychopaths lack realistic, long-term goals


While psychopaths are goal-driven, many take a carpe diem approach to long-term planning. They believe they need to live in the moment instead of planning for the future, although what goals they do have often are disconnected from any probably future. They have an inability to ground their understanding of their lives in reality. “If you speak with them in in jail, they might say they want to be an astronaut, a ninja, or an FBI agent,” says Schug. “Their goals are totally out of line with the situation.”

Psychopaths think they’re superior


Psychopaths consider themselves better than the people around them, which might help account for why they aren’t concerned by the negative impacts of their actions. In the workplace, this can manifest as someone who is “not concerned about the team and is reluctant to take advice from others until it immediately helps him or her,” says Salekin. This could look like overly confident, dominant behavior, or it could be masked around those the psychopath believes are beneficial to his or her success, such as someone capable of offering advice. “They hide their true motivations and project carefully formed personas to capitalize on the needs, expectations, and naiveté of individuals useful to them,” write Babiak and Hare.


Psychopaths can switch their empathy on and off


A psychopath is not concerned with his or her impact on others, whether that be financial, social, or personal, primarily because a psychopath is incapable of feeling emotion, either for themselves or others. “Psychopaths lack… possibly even the most basic understanding of human feelings,” write Babiak and Hare. While it was previously believed that psychopaths are incapable of empathy, a 2013 study described by Psychology Today studied the brain activity of various violent psychopathic offenders and discovered that the regions of the brain associated with sharing suffering with others can be activated and deactivated. While they normally do lack empathy, they can voluntarily turn it on in order to seduce, charm, and manipulate someone else. These exercises can increase your empathy.

Psychopaths have a bad temper


A real psychopath is someone who models excessive anger no matter who they’re with or what they’re doing. “In terms of domestic violence, you’ll see physical or verbal aggression over and over again,” says Schug. “Outside of a relationship, they might have road rage or be constantly getting into arguments.” Noticing this sign might be harder than it sounds: a psychopath’s charm usually covers his or her anger tendencies. “They can turn mean, but only if challenged or someone gets in the way of their goal,” says Salekin. “Otherwise, it’s all charm.”

Psychopaths are sexually promiscuous

With their ability to charm unsuspecting victims, psychopaths can lure unsuspecting people into bed, but aren’t interested in commitment, or anything beyond the immediate thrill. A study done at the University of London showed that psychopaths were more associated with promiscuity and not with commitment. Sex for the psychopath is not about the other person, but more about the power play or stroking his or her own ego.

Psychopaths are impulsive or irresponsible


This impulsivity or irresponsibility, whether it’s risking a relationship by cheating, being reckless with their finances, or even breaking the law. “Psychopaths are more likely to get DUIs or not pay child support,” says Schug.

Psychopaths were problematic as children


Since psychopathy is a personality disorder and personality is largely unchanging, these traits need to be observed in childhood. A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that hyperactivity and conduct disorders were strong predictors of psychopathic behaviors in adulthood. “These are the kids that really stand out in terms of getting kicked out of school or coming into contact with law enforcement,” says Schug.

Psychopaths engage in criminal behavior


Watching movies like American Psycho or reading about the likes of John Wayne Gacy might suggest that all psychopaths have a few literal skeletons in their closet. However, some might partake in white-collar crime as opposed to more violent acts, meaning you’re more likely to be swindled by them than physically hurt. Many criminals commit crime because of a drug addiction or as a result of a violent childhood, but for psychopaths, the impulse largely stems from a disconnection from society. Hare writes: “Crime is less the result of adverse social conditions than of a character structure that operates with no reference to the rules and regulations of society.”



Psychopaths are unpredictable


“They like a lot of change in their atmosphere, which might include changing team members and jobs,” says Salekin. Beware also of people who are flighty in their relationships and opinions, as a psychopath can seem to change their entire personality depending on the situation. There can be a “dramatic shift from friendly coworker to cold, dispassionate stranger,” write Babiak and Hare. A psychopath can alter who they seemingly are and what they seemingly want given on how well they believe that specific mask will benefit them at the time.

Psychopath behavior is a pattern


At one point or another, everyone has been swept up in a moment of road rage or fantasizing about becoming a famous actor or app inventor. What differentiates most of us from being psychopaths is that these only occur once in a while. “[With a psychopath], these are things happening over and over again,” Schug says. “It’s a personality disorder. The personality manifests at work, at school, with family, with friends, when they’re young, when they’re a teenager, when they’re an adult.” Even if the office jerk might have you donning your psychoanalyst’s cap, by not observing a person in other aspects of their life, it’s impossible to see if their attitude might be evidence of a darker issue, or just ill temper at having to come to work.

Last edited by sunnubian
DennisKalita posted:

Sessions issues sweeping new criminal charging policy on drugs +

The Sessions memo marks the first significant criminal justice effort by the Trump administration to bring back the toughest practices of the drug war, which had fallen out of favor in recent years with a bipartisan movement to undo the damaging effects of mass incarceration....

Of course, we know WHO this "sweeping new criminal policy" is setting up for CRUEL AND UNUSUAL SENTENCES.  

And as expected, his statement that, “There will be circumstances in which good judgment would lead a prosecutor to conclude that a strict application of the above charging policy is not warranted,” is the LOOP-HOLE to make sure that White people will be allowed to escape this very "policy" that is designed to trap Black people into CRUEL AND UNUSUAL SENTENCES  



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