Attorney General Sessions praises the DARE anti-drug program, backs tough approach

Criminal Justice

Jeff Sessions

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions touted DARE, a drug education program founded in 1983, during a drug policy speech on Tuesday.

The DARE program has previously been criticized as ineffectual, but Sessions had praise for the program in his speech at the 30th DARE training conference in Texas, report the Washington Examiner, Rolling Stone and the Dallas Observer.

“We have to create a cultural climate that is hostile to drug abuse,” Sessions’ prepared remarks said. “In recent years, government officials were sending mixed messages about drugs. We need to send a clear message. We must have Drug Abuse Resistance Education. DARE is the best remembered anti-drug program. I am proud of your work. It has played a key role in saving thousands of lives and futures.”

The National Criminal Justice Reference Service said in a 1998 report to Congress that the DARE program did not reduce substance abuse. However, one newer DARE program called “keepin’ it REAL” has had positive results, according to a Scientific American article noted by Rolling Stone. Keepin’ it REAL replaces drug lectures with interactive sessions designed to help kids made good decisions.

Sessions also endorsed a tough approach to drug crimes in his speech. He criticized the Obama administration for allowing federal prosecutors to avoid triggering mandatory minimum sentences by omitting the full amount of drugs seized in charging documents.

“What was the result?” Sessions said. “It was exactly what you would think: sentences went down and crime went up. Sentences for federal drug crimes dropped by 18 percent from 2009 to 2016. Violent crime—which had been decreasing for two decades—suddenly went up again. Two years after this policy change, the United States suffered the largest single-year increase in the overall violent crime rate since 1991.”

Sessions has reversed the former Justice Department’s drug charging policy. Sessions’ prepared remarks also addressed the importance of protecting the country from drugs by securing the border and “having a lawful system of immigration in this country.”


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