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.
This may be well-intentioned, but it’s a shame that a disease is being treated this way. Addiction is clearly a disease, with genetic markers, brain changes that can be diagnosed with lab studies. This brings up the age-old dilemma of criminal behavior in disease. At what point is the person a sick person, perhaps a patient seeking help, or a criminal. Addiction is labeled as a disability when the person stops abusing legal substances (that doesn’t apply to the use of illegal substances).
Is it fair to hold one person responsible for making a (possibly ill-informed) choice? What other options should be available? Society as a whole needs to come up with those answers.
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