Can Attorney General Eric Holder Summon New Season of ‘The Wire’?

The policies are “succeeding only in transforming our democracy into the jailingest nation on the planet (sic),” he concluded.

Well if the Attorney General’s recent plans to reduce the prison terms that low-level drug offenders receive constitute a legitimate effort to address the war on drugs, then it looks as if the ball is back in Simon’s court. In a speech to the American Bar Association in early August, Holder laid out the Justice Department’s new drug-related reforms that arguably address some of Simon’s concerns.

According to a New York Times report, the new policies will leave more drug crimes to state courts to preside over instead of federal courts; increase the use of drug-treatment programs as alternatives to incarceration; and, expand the “compassionate release” program for elderly, non-violent drug offenders who have served a significant portion of their sentences.

Holder seemed to agree with Simon’s comment about American courts being obsessed with putting people in prison, telling the ABA’s audience that “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no good law enforcement reason.”

Only time will tell if the Justice Department’s new drug policies satisfy Simon’s requests, or if he instead agrees with some of Holder’s critics who say they’re not ambitious enough. They want the DOJ to change its position on the use of recreational marijuana and would also like to see policies that address how black people are arrested at higher rates than whites for the same drug-related offenses. Simon had not responded to The Root’s request for an interview by the time this article was published. 

Here’s to hoping that Simon is thinking of Detective McNulty’s next case for season 6. In the meantime, watch this Lectures to Beats episode that parses some of the compelling issues The Wire addresses.

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