This morning, President Donald Trump confirmed he will nominate William Barr as Attorney General. Barr was previously Attorney General under George H.W. Bush and has been a fierce advocate for mass incarceration and punitive drug policies. He has indicated support for the extrajudicial killing of drug traffickers, as well as harsh mandatory minimums that have fueled the country’s ongoing crisis of mass incarceration.
Despite remarkably strong bipartisan support for criminal justice reform – both in U.S. public opinion and in Congress – Barr opposes even modest reforms. In 2015, Barr signed a letter to then-Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) urging them not to bring up a sentencing reform bill: “Our system of justice is not broken. Mandatory minimums and proactive law enforcement measures have caused a dramatic reduction in crime over the past 25 years, an achievement we cannot afford to give back,” the letter read.
Barr’s daughter, Mary Daly, was tapped in February by Jeff Sessions to be the Justice Department’s point person on opioids. Daly supported rolling back Obama administration policies that encouraged more leniency when it comes to low-level drug offenses.
DPA Statement from Michael Collins, Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance:
“It’s hard to imagine an Attorney General as bad as Jeff Sessions when it comes to criminal justice and the drug war, but Trump seems to have found one. Nominating Barr totally undermines Trump’s recent endorsement of sentencing reform.
“The vast majority of Americans believe the war on drugs needs to be replaced with a health-centered approach. It is critically important that the next Attorney General be committed to defending basic rights and moving away from failed drug war policies. William Barr is a disastrous choice.”