For Immediate Release

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Condemns Attorney General's Call for the Death Penalty in Drug Cases

WASHINGTON - Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued the following statement Wednesday after Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo instructing federal prosecutors to pursue the death penalty in federal drug cases:

“In no uncertain terms, we condemn Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ outrageous call for use of the death penalty as a tool for combatting the sale of drugs in our communities.  Today’s announcement is tough on crime to the extreme.  Without a doubt, African Americans and Latinos will be disproportionately targeted by over-zealous federal prosecutors eager to heed Sessions’ call for more death sentences.  At every turn, Attorney General Sessions has reversed years of progress to promote criminal justice reform and he has reignited the ‘War on Drugs.’  His actions threaten to exacerbate existing racial disparities that infect every stage of the criminal justice system, particularly decisions regarding who is issued a death sentence.

“Moreover, the Attorney General’s memo comes days after President Trump called for use of the death penalty against drug dealers in a speech at a rally.  Americans deserve a Justice Department that is committed to promoting justice and not a political agenda. This action stands as further evidence of the politicization of the Justice Department.”

A copy of the memo can be found here.


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The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law.

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