A groundbreaking exhibit challenging the criminal justice system will be opening on August 24 at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas. Walls Turned Sideways is a group show with more than 40 artists. The exhibit is curated by Risa Puleo, who splits her time between New York, Texas and Europe. She attended Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies Program and has a master’s in art history from Hunter College.
President Trump and the use of presidential pardons is all over the news. Earlier this week the President met with Kim Kardashian to discuss the case of Alice Marie Johnson, a grandmother who has spent more than 20 years behind bars on a drug charge.
Bernard Noble, who was sentenced to 13 years for possessing two marijuana joints, was granted parole yesterday after serving more than 8 years in a Louisiana prison. His case drew national attention and outrage, at a time when states are legalizing marijuana and individuals are making big bucks with the business of marijuana.
In 2008 Luke Scarmazzo and Ricardo Ruiz Montes were found guilty of drug charges for operating a medical marijuana dispensary and both sentenced to 20 years in federal prison with the possibility of life behind bars.
It was inevitable. I knew he was going to relapse, after all it’s an acceptable part of drug addiction. Cameron was released from prison and doing well. He was working, writing his new memoir and just enjoying his life after serving 7 years hard time for a drug sale. Then his world almost fell apart just three months later.
In the 1980s and ‘90s the U.S. relied on tougher laws which mandated mandatory minimum sentencing that did nothing to reduce drug abuse or drug prohibition-related violence, but contributed significantly to staggering government deficits as prison spending skyrocketed.
Larry Yarbrough was sentenced in 1997 to life without parole for the sale of one ounce of cocaine. It’s hard to imagine someone being sentenced to that much time for such a small amount of drugs. But under the new guidance from Attorney General Sessions we will see more sentences like this handed out. Just last week Sessions told prosecutors to charge drug offenders with the harshest possible sentences they could give allowing mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines to kick in in federal cases.
On May 15, I was invited to appear on Democracy Now, along with Dr. Carl Hart, about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his controversial new plan to have prosecutors across the country throw the book at drug offenders and charge them with the fullest extent of the law. This includes using mandatory minimum sentencing laws which handcuff judges and prevent them from looking at the totality of facts within a particular case.
When President Trump came into office and appointed Jeff Sessions, drug war activists feared that he would take away the tremendous progress that was gained under the Obama administration. Now our greatest fear materialized when Attorney General Jeff Sessions just released a memo to prosecutors, calling on them to push for the “most serious” charges against people, hoping to trigger mandatory minimum drug sentences. This policy reverses former attorney general Eric Holder directive which asked prosecutors to avoid using mandatory minimum sentencing laws.