Several of my contacts in law enforcement were appalled by Barack Obama’s liberal stand on drug use. While the liberal mainstream media and politicians praised Obama for reducing prison sentences for some drug convictions, some conservatives claimed it was a step in the wrong direction.
One of those conservatives was Steven H. Cook, a former street cop and attorney from Knoxville, Tennessee. He has been serving as an Assistant US Attorney based in Knoxville and he has served as President of the National Association of Assistant US Attorneys (NAAUSA). He was one of the few in the judicial system who dared speak out against Obama’s lax policies on drug use.
In 2015, in an attempt to win more votes for Democrats, Obama commuted the sentences of 46 people who had been convicted of felony drug charges. He also pushed the Justice Department and judicial system to issue more lenient sentences for what Obama called ‘low-level’ and ‘non-violent’ drug users and traffickers. Obama told the nation that our judicial system was broken when it came to drug crimes.
Cook responded by speaking at a news conference, where he stated:
“Drug trafficking is inherently violent. You keep hearing the phrase ‘non-violent drug offenders’ — it’s a misnomer. Drug trafficking is inherently violent and the penalties are necessary.”
Speaking about people like Obama, Cook went on to say:
“They haven’t stood next to the casket of an 18-year-old and listened to the mother cry about having lost her only child to pills that were peddled on the street for profit, They haven’t been in the front seat of a car and extracted the parents while their 7- and 8-year-old daughters lay in the back seat dead because they were hit head-on by someone drugged up on illegal and controlled substances that they had obtained unlawfully.”
“They probably haven’t visited neonatal wards and watched as babies go through withdrawals because they’re mother was addicted – in my district often times – methamphetamine -– it’s horrible and tragic consequences that we see.”
In October 2015, Cook gave a written statement to the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The statement was concerning their hearing on ‘The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015’.
His statement read in part:
“Our Criminal Justice System Is Not Broken”
“There is a common refrain among some advocacy groups: ‘the federal criminal justice system is broken.’ That refrain is tired, and it is false. The fundamental responsibility of government is to protect its citizens from foreign and domestic threats. On the domestic side, that responsibility is shouldered primarily by the criminal justice system. The government’s responsibility is to act within the boundaries of the law to protect good and honest citizens from the murderers, rapists, robbers, drug traffickers, fraudsters, and other criminals who would, if given the opportunity, prey on them at will.”
“Our federal criminal justice system, although weakened by a series of decisions by the Supreme Court, the Sentencing Commission, and the Administration, continues to perform that responsibility exceptionally well. For evidence of that fact, one need look no further than the historically low crime rates that we have enjoyed in recent years. Streets that were once plagued by violence have been made safer. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, however, threatens to reverse many of the gains we have made by making thousands of convicted and imprisoned armed career criminals, serial violent criminals, and high-level drug traffickers eligible for early release. Further, it would seriously weaken the very tools that federal prosecutors, working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, have used to keep our communities safe…”
“Put simply, over the past several years the federal system has undergone substantial change that has resulted in the release of thousands of criminals. States have also instituted sentencing ‘reform’ programs that have resulted in many more thousands of criminals being returned to the streets. The concern should be obvious: more criminals on the streets will result in more crime. As Professor Matt DeLisi testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, ‘criminal justice research shows that releasing just 1 percent of the current [federal prison] population would result in approximately 32,850 additional murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, thefts, auto thefts, and incidents of arson.’ That means the 11 percent drop in the federal prison population will result in another 361, 350 additional murders, rapes, robberies, and other serious crimes.”
“Predictably, we are already seeing signs that some of these ‘reforms’ are endangering the American public. Crime appears to be rising in several key and related categories—violent crime, property crime, and drug crime. Homicides and other violent crimes are spiraling upward in cities across the country including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C…”
“Additionally, drug crime (particularly trafficking of opiate-based narcotics) is increasing at alarming rates. The trafficking of opiate-based narcotics has led to what Time magazine has described as ‘the worst addiction crisis the country has ever seen.’ According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 43,983 drug overdose deaths in 2013. In East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, in my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, nearly half of the infants in the hospital’s NICU are suffering from terrible opiate withdrawals. And the human toll does not end there. Preliminary studies indicate those infants will suffer from a variety of mental and physical health issues the remainder of their lives. Yet we are constantly hearing that drug crimes are ‘non-violent.’ And in case the human suffering is not enough, the financial cost to the American taxpayer and the burden on the healthcare system is considerable. On average the cost to Medicaid is $53,000 to wean one opioid dependent infant. Similarly, in 2011 alone there were approximately 2.5 million emergency department visits caused by drug misuse and abuse…”
After reading about Cook and reading his full statement to the Senate committee, you should be pleased and encouraged to know that US Attorney Jeff Sessions has appointed Cook to be one of his top lieutenants in the Justice Department. One of Cook’s tasks is to help undo the damaging criminal justice policies of Barack Obama.
According to a one source:
“Sessions has yet to announce specific policy changes, but Cook’s new perch speaks volumes about where the Justice Department is headed.”
“Law enforcement officials say that Sessions and Cook are preparing a plan to prosecute more drug and gun cases and pursue mandatory minimum sentences. The two men are eager to bring back the national crime strategy of the 1980s and ’90s from the peak of the drug war, an approach that had fallen out of favor in recent years as minority communities grappled with the effects of mass incarceration.”
Recently speaking to top law enforcement officials, Sessions told them:
“Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs is bad. It will destroy your life.”
Between Trump promising to secure the border and Sessions commitment to prosecute crime and the addition of Cook to his inner circle, conservatives can be encouraged that for the first time in 8 years, our laws will be upheld.