The Trump administration’s criminal justice policies are threatening to reverse the progress Obama made in reducing the number of Black people in prison, new data reported by the Pew Research Center has suggested.
The Black incarceration rate decreased by 17 percent between 2009 and 2016. Federal and state prisons held 584,800 Black inmates in 2009 and fell to 486,900 at the end of 2016. At the same time, the stubborn gap between Black and White prisoners also decreased. This decline is viewed as a significant step in the right direction, even though Blacks are still disproportionately incarcerated. African Americans represented 12 percent of the U.S. population in 2016 but 33 percent of the prison population.
That progress could soon reverse. In 2016, President Barack Obama’s Justice Department announced a plan to scale back the use of private prisons, which are operated by for-profit companies. President Donald Trump, who has falsely claimed that violent crime is on rise, came into office and rescinded the Obama policy, signaling the need for more prison space.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who passionately shares Trump’s distaste for criminal justice reform, has taken steps toward returning to the war on drugs that targeted the Black community. He directed federal prosecutors to pursue the harshest charges against suspects. Under the Obama Justice Department, former Attorney General Eric Holder pushed for sentencing reform that included directing prosecutors to avoid mandatory minimum sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders. At the same time, President Obama commuted the long sentences of more than 1,700 federal inmates who committed minor drug crimes.
While the Obama Justice Department pursued criminal justice reform, the Trump and Sessions DOJ have no interest in correcting the racially biased system. Sessions has dismissed calls to change the system, telling reformers that they should focus on stopping crime through harsher sentencing.
Happy Birthday, Barack Obama: Photos That Will Make You Miss Your Favorite President
1. Barack Gives Daughter Malia a KissSource:Getty 1 of 29
2. Michelle and Barack tell the kids a storySource:Getty 2 of 29
3. Michelle and Barack KissSource:Getty 3 of 29
4. Michelle and BarackSource:Getty 4 of 29
5. First Family PortraitSource:Getty 5 of 29
6. Two TermsSource:Getty 6 of 29
7. Michelle and Barack host a State DinnerSource:Getty 7 of 29
8. Barack Obama and Michelle ObamaSource:Getty 8 of 29
9. Sunday ChurchSource:Getty 9 of 29
10. Barack Obama and his daughter Malia ObamaSource:Getty 10 of 29
11. A Family AffairSource:Getty 11 of 29
12. Flashback To The Old DaysSource:Pete Souza 12 of 29
13. Happy Birthday!Source:Getty 13 of 29
14. Candidly AwesomeSource:Pete Souza 14 of 29
15. Historic First FamilySource:Getty 15 of 29
16. Ice Cream TreatSource:Getty 16 of 29
17. TV TimeSource:Pete Souza 17 of 29
18. Hawaii Trip!Source:Getty 18 of 29
19. Obama Loves Team USA & His WifeSource:Getty 19 of 29
20. Reading TimeSource:Pete Souza 20 of 29
21. Family SupportSource:Getty 21 of 29
22. Supporting MomSource:Pete Souza 22 of 29
23. Giving Back On MLK DaySource:Getty 23 of 29
24. Obamas Give Back To The CommunitySource:Getty 24 of 29
25. Always Supporting Small BusinessesSource:Getty 25 of 29
26. Obama SwaggerSource:Getty 26 of 29
27. Laughs & TurkeysSource:Getty 27 of 29
28. Christmas With The ObamasSource:Getty 28 of 29
29. 50th Anniversary Of March On SelmaSource:Pete Souza 29 of 29
The Incarceration Rate Declines, But For How Long? was originally published on newsone.com