Tuesday and Wednesday: Confirmation Hearings on William Barr for Attorney General

Press Release January 14, 2019
Media Contact

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Michael Collins 404-539-6437

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold confirmation hearings for 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 and Harry Reid 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 flexibility when it comes to low-level drug offenses.

Statement from Michael Collins, Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance:

“Trump is appointing someone who has long been a cheerleader for mass incarceration and the war on drugs. It shows the Administration’s true colors and undermines any recent criminal justice reforms. Senators from both parties should take Barr to task for his appalling views on drug policy and criminal justice, instead of giving him an easy ride like they did with Jeff Sessions.”  

Last week, civil rights organizations held a press call to highlight the threat to civil rights that Barr would pose as Attorney General.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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