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1CN ON: OPED: How To Heal The Scars Of Our War On DrugsFri, 01 Sep 2017
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Peirce, Jennifer Area:Ontario Lines:Excerpt Added:09/06/2017

The legalization of cannabis and rapid scale up of supervised-injection sites - as well as community-led initiatives, such as the site set up by Overdose Prevention Ottawa in Lowertown this month - have thrust Canada back into the limelight of global drug policy. Against the backdrop of a national overdose crisis and a fracturing of global consensus on drug prohibition, these are welcome changes. Yet they only begin to chip away at the drug policy challenges facing Canada.

Canada's policy community remains divided about how best to tackle the overdose crisis. As the death toll mounts, should we invest more in law and order approaches, treatment, harm reduction or some combination?

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2 US: Sessions: Drug Overdoses Are 'The Top Lethal Issue' In The U.S.Tue, 29 Aug 2017
Source:Chicago Tribune (IL) Author:Moreno, Ivan Area:United States Lines:43 Added:09/01/2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday called drug overdose deaths "the top lethal issue" in the U.S. and urged law enforcement and social workers to "create and foster a culture that's hostile to drug use."

Sessions spoke to the annual conference of the National Alliance For Drug Endangered Children. He said preliminary data show nearly 60,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2016, the highest ever.

"Our current drug epidemic is indeed the deadliest in American history. We've seen nothing like it," said Sessions.

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3 US MA: Baker Proposes Manslaughter Charge For Drug DealersWed, 30 Aug 2017
Source:Boston Globe (MA) Author:Ransom, Jan Area:Massachusetts Lines:138 Added:08/30/2017

Seeking to crack down on the suppliers behind the state's lethal opioid crisis, Governor Charlie Baker on Wednesday filed a broad legislative package that would create a new manslaughter charge for drug dealers whose product causes a death.

Under Baker's plan, dealers would face a mandatory minimum of five years for selling any drugs that result in a fatality.

"When illegal drug distribution causes a death, laws that were designed to punish the act are inadequate to recognize the seriousness of the resulting harm," Baker wrote in a letter to state lawmakers in support of the legislation. "In order to ensure that accountability, this legislation establishes enhanced penalties that directly target those who cause death by illegally selling drugs."

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4CN ON: OPED: Canada Should Decriminalize All DrugsTue, 15 Aug 2017
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author:Spratt, Michael Area:Ontario Lines:Excerpt Added:08/17/2017

Jailing addicts does nothing to stop substance abuse, says Michael Spratt.

Last week, Ottawa's medical officer of health, Dr. Isra Levy, pledged Ottawa Public Health's support for "new evidence-based approaches" to combat the problems caused by illegal drugs including - wait for it - decriminalization.

City Coun. Mathieu Fleury said, "It's a crazy thought, but it's a crazy thought that might actually have some merit."

Fleury should be commended. Where Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson had cast off the shackles of evidence-based thinking to stand against the city's first safe consumption site, Fleury's open mindedness is a breath of fresh air.

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5US WI: Column: Mills: It's Time To End The War On DrugsFri, 11 Aug 2017
Source:Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) Author:Mills, Emily Area:Wisconsin Lines:Excerpt Added:08/11/2017

I grew up in the 1980s, back when the "Just Say No" campaign was in full swing. I remember being prepared to fend off relentless peer pressure to do drugs, evil strangers offering what was not actually candy, and so forth. Then I grew up, and almost none of the scenarios I'd been taught in D.A.R.E. ever really came to pass.

I still avoided drugs, mostly because of a combination of a good home life and an over-analytical brain. It wasn't as if drugs weren't around, though. I watched too many of my friends experiment with everything from speed to acid. No one ever pressured me to try it. It was simply there if you wanted to dive in.

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6 CN MB: Defence Promises Appeal In Mandatory Sentencing CaseThu, 27 Jul 2017
Source:Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB) Author:May, Katie Area:Manitoba Lines:122 Added:08/01/2017

Judge 'troubled' but forced to lock up single mother of four children

PLANS to appeal a mandatory minimum sentence as unconstitutional are on the horizon for a Winnipeg mother who is now behind bars despite the judge's declaration that justice would not be served by locking her up.

Sandra Dignard, 37, was taken into custody Wednesday to start serving her two-year federal prison sentence for smuggling drugs into Stony Mountain prison five years ago. She tearfully said goodbye to her young son and pleaded with other relatives to take good care of all four of her children before sheriff's officers led her away, out of view of her family.

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7 US: Pot Is Legal In Some States, But Not OthersTue, 04 Jul 2017
Source:Lexington Herald-Leader (KY) Author:Wolfson, Andrew Area:United States Lines:186 Added:07/05/2017

On a cool, rainy day, more than 200 people crowd under a tarp in the parking lot of Big Mama's Restaurant, bidding on bicycles, air rifles and marijuana posters to raise money to support a jailed local legend.

They have a lot of work to do, because Cornbread Mafia leader Johnny Boone, captured in Canada and returned to Kentucky after eight years as a fugitive, faces life in prison if convicted on his third strike, for growing 2,421 marijuana seedlings on a farm. In 29 states and the District of Columbia, marijuana is legal for recreational or medicinal purposes, or both. But the federal government, while giving a virtual free pass to growers in states where marijuana is legal, continues to seek long mandatory minimum penalties against defendants in Kentucky and other states where it is not.

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8CN BC: Court Tosses Mandatory Sentencing LawMon, 19 Jun 2017
Source:Vancouver Sun (CN BC) Author:Mulgrew, Ian Area:British Columbia Lines:Excerpt Added:06/19/2017

The B.C. Court of Appeal has struck down as cruel and unusual punishment the six-month mandatory jail sentence for growing between six and 200 marijuana plants for the purposes of trafficking.

The high court decision, which echoed previous rulings that denounced as unconstitutional other former Tory tough-on-crime provisions, underscored the new federal Liberal administration's tardiness in fulfilling promises to review such laws.

The decision pointed out that sea-changes in social attitudes, to which the Conservative government seemed oblivious, must be taken into account and "energize" Charter interpretations.

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9 US: PUB LTE: Small-Time Dealers Get Long Sentences TooSat, 03 Jun 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Angelos, Weldon Area:United States Lines:33 Added:06/03/2017

In Heather Mac Donald's "Mandatory Minimums Don't Deserve Your Ire" (op-ed, May 26) about mandatory minimum sentences (MMS), she writes that 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentences are only given to large-scale traffickers. In 2004 I was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison for selling $1,000 worth of marijuana while possessing a firearm. The judge who sentenced me called my punishment "unjust, cruel and even irrational" and compared it to the much shorter federal sentences given to repeat child rapists, murderers and even some terrorists.

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10 US: PUB LTE: Mandatory Sentences Often Hit The MinnowsSat, 03 Jun 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Ring, Kevin Area:United States Lines:39 Added:06/03/2017

Under federal law, anyone convicted of selling just five grams of methamphetamine-the weight of a nickel-is subject to a mandatory five-year prison term. Get caught buying or selling a second time, no matter how many years after your first offense, and you will be subject to a 10-year mandatory prison sentence.

Ms. Mac Donald may pretend that mandatory sentences are reserved for the likes of El Chapo, but the truth is mandatory sentences are more often used against low-level offenders. Ninety-three percent of people who receive federal mandatory minimums played no leadership role in their crimes. There are lots of minnows and few sharks.

There are simply no studies that show mandatory sentences reduce drug crime. Every dollar wasted on mandatory minimums is one that would be better invested in proven anticrime strategies like hiring more police officers and expanding substance abuse treatment.

Kevin Ring

President

Families Against Mandatory Minimums

Washington

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11 US: PUB LTE: The Accused Don't Want To Take The RiskSat, 03 Jun 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:McBride, Bob Area:United States Lines:34 Added:06/03/2017

The fear conjured up by MMS is a prime motivator in the accused accepting a plea bargain. Even with a person who believes he is innocent, the downside is too great. There is something not right about destroying accepted historical precedent of the evaluation by a judge and jury, who have heard all the evidence and witnessed the character, arguments and demeanor of the prosecution and the accused, in favor of the wisdom of remote legislators stroked by the DAs looking for a bailout for their inability to earn a conviction on the merits.

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12 US: OPED: Mandatory Minimums Don't Deserve Your IreFri, 26 May 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:MacDonald, Heather Area:United States Lines:110 Added:05/26/2017

Mandatory Minimums Don't Deserve Your Ire Jeff Sessions's policy won't lock up harmless stoners, but it will help dismantle drug-trafficking networks.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being tarred as a racist-again-for bringing the law fully to bear on illegal drug traffickers. Mr. Sessions has instructed federal prosecutors to disclose in court the actual amount of drugs that trafficking defendants possessed at the time of arrest. That disclosure will trigger the mandatory penalties set by Congress for large-scale dealers.

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13 CN MB: Judge Slams Law, Delays SentencingSat, 20 May 2017
Source:Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB) Author:May, Katie Area:Manitoba Lines:107 Added:05/24/2017

Gives mom convicted of drug smuggling time to arrange child care ahead of mandatory prison term

In a case that has raised questions about the effect of mandatory minimum sentences, a Manitoba judge has taken pity on a woman he convicted by agreeing to give her more freedom before he sends her to prison.

In a likely unprecedented move, Justice Sheldon Lanchbery reserved his decision and delayed the sentencing of 37-year-old Sandra Dignard by about two months. That will allow the mother of four time to make child-care arrangements before she is placed in custody. The judge said he has no choice but to sentence Dignard to two years in prison for drug trafficking, despite his belief she should not be locked up.

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14 US: Editorial: Lurching Backward On Justice ReformMon, 22 May 2017
Source:New York Times (NY)          Area:United States Lines:67 Added:05/22/2017

When it comes to criminal justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a man out of time - stuck defiantly in the 1980s, when crime in America was high and politicians scrambled to out-tough one another by passing breathtakingly severe sentencing laws. This mind-set was bad enough when Mr. Sessions was a senator from Alabama working to thwart sentencing reforms in Congress. Now that he is the nation's top law enforcement officer, he's trying to drag the country backward with him, even as most states are moving toward more enlightened policies.

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15 US: Unity Was Emerging On Sentencing, Then Came SessionsMon, 15 May 2017
Source:New York Times (NY) Author:Hulse, Carl Area:United States Lines:128 Added:05/20/2017

WASHINGTON - As a senator, Jeff Sessions was such a conservative outlier on criminal justice issues that he pushed other Republicans to the forefront of his campaign to block a sentencing overhaul, figuring they would be taken more seriously.

Now Mr. Sessions is attorney general and need not take a back seat to anyone when it comes to imposing his ultratough-on-crime views. The effect of his transition from being just one of 535 in Congress to being top dog at the Justice Department was underscored on Friday when he ordered federal prosecutors to make sure they threw the book at criminal defendants and pursued the toughest penalties possible.

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16 US: Mixed Grades For A Scrapped Drug PolicyMon, 15 May 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Reinhard, Beth Area:United States Lines:117 Added:05/20/2017

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week jettisoned an Obama administration policy that had been aimed at sparing less-serious drug offenders from harsh sentences, he called his new, more aggressive approach "moral and just."

But the verdict among law-enforcement and legal professionals is more mixed. Government data, along with interviews with former U.S. attorneys who advised the Justice Department under President Barack Obama, suggest the previous policy achieved several, though not all, of its goals.

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced the policy that was to be embodied in what became known as the "Holder memo" in a 2013 speech to the American Bar Association. Mr. Holder pledged that federal prosecutors would focus on more dangerous drug traffickers and avoid charging less-serious offenders with crimes that required long, mandatory-minimum sentences. Mandatory-minimum sentences, he said, had led to bloated, costly prisons and disproportionately ravaged minority communities.

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17 US: Drug Lenience Of Obama Era May Be EndingWed, 10 May 2017
Source:New York Times (NY) Author:Ruiz, Rebecca R. Area:United States Lines:114 Added:05/15/2017

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to soon toughen rules on prosecuting drug crimes, according to people familiar with internal deliberations, in what would be a major rollback of Obama-era policies that would put his first big stamp on a Justice Department he has criticized as soft on crime.

Mr. Sessions has been reviewing a pair of memos issued by his predecessor, Eric H. Holder Jr., who encouraged federal prosecutors to use their discretion in what criminal charges they filed, particularly when those charges carried mandatory minimum penalties.

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18US GA: Georgia, Feds Diverge On Policy For SentencingSat, 13 May 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Bluestein, Greg Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:05/13/2017

Even as Gov. Nathan Deal was signing the latest batch of state laws designed to keep lower-level offenders out of prison, the Trump administration was preparing a crackdown seeking the toughest possible charges against offenders convicted of nonviolent drug violations.

The U.S. Justice Department released directives Friday that call for more mandatory minimum sentences and direct prosecutors to pursue the strictest punishments available. It was a sweeping shift in criminal justice policy, reversing Obama-era policies to reduce penalties for some nonviolent offenses.

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19 US: Sessions Tells Prosecutors To Seek Harsher PenaltiesSat, 13 May 2017
Source:New York Times (NY) Author:Ruiz, Rebecca R. Area:United States Lines:135 Added:05/13/2017

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered federal prosecutors to pursue the toughest possible charges and sentences against crime suspects, he announced Friday, reversing Obama administration efforts to ease penalties for some nonviolent drug violations.

The drastic shift in criminal justice policy, foreshadowed during recent weeks, is Mr. Sessions's first major stamp on the Justice Department, and it highlights several of his top targets: drug dealing, gun crime and gang violence.

In an eight-paragraph memo, Mr. Sessions returned to the guidance of President George W. Bush's administration by calling for more uniform punishments - including mandatory minimum sentences - and instructing prosecutors to pursue the harshest possible charges. Mr. Sessions's policy is broader than that of the Bush administration, however, and how it is carried out will depend more heavily on the judgments of United States attorneys and assistant attorneys general as they bring charges.

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20 US: Sessions Toughens Policy For Drug CasesSat, 13 May 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Reinhard, Beth Area:United States Lines:122 Added:05/13/2017

In a move expected to swell federal prisons, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scuttling an Obama administration policy to avoid charging nonviolent, less-serious drug offenders with long, mandatory-minimum sentences.

Mr. Sessions's new guidelines revive a policy created under President George W. Bush that tasked federal prosecutors with charging "the most serious readily provable offense."

It is the latest and most significant step by the new administration toward dismantling President Barack Obama's criminal justice legacy. And it defies a trend in state capitals-including several led by conservative Republicans-toward recalibrating or abandoning the mandatory-minimum sentences popularized during the "war on drugs" of the 1980s and 1990s.

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