Canned Ashcroft Now Available

Ashcroft has a new tool in his war on drugs arsenal - Pre-written, canned op-eds praising mandatory minimum sentences, signed by various U.S. Attorneys around the country.

Under the fearless leadership of Attorney General John Ashcroft, the U.S. Department of Justice has taken to churning out prewritten op-ed pieces in support of mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, which are being pitched to local newspapers bearing the signatures of local U.S. attorneys, reports the Drug Reform Coordination Network. Ashcroft's full-throttle "AstroTurfing" campaign – i.e., a pseudo-grassroots campaign – comes in response to a growing discontent with the man-min sentencing structure, voiced by several federal judges, including Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy – and, more recently, a June 24 Supreme Court decision (Blakley v. Washington), in which the court opined that juries, and not judges, must decide the facts of a case if those facts may result in a longer sentence.

The DOJ's bolstering campaign was outed earlier this month by the advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, after the "model" op-ed turned up in three different newspapers. And last week DRCNet spotted the same piece – which warns that the high court's Blakley decision jeopardizes "the safety of America" – in three Tennessee newspapers, signed by two different U.S. attorneys.

[link via Cursor.]

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