The Post’s Sari Horwitz reports that Obama intends to nominate Vanita Gupta, currently director of the ACLU’s Center for Justice, to lead the civil rights division of the Justice Department. Gupta also currently leads the ACLU’s National Campaign to End Mass Incarceration. Horwitz writes:
Gupta, 39, who was born in the Philadelphia area to immigrant parents, has been praised by a wide array of political activists for her civil rights work, especially on prison reform, an issue on which liberals and conservatives have found common ground.
Given her background, the move to the civil rights division is in many ways a natural one. And interestingly, much of her interest in disparities reflects concern over racial disparities in the war on drugs.
Gupta has been an outspoken opponent of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, particularly their application in drug offenses. Last month, she penned an op-ed for CNN centered around a man sentenced to life in prison for buying marijuana.
“This country has spent 40 years relentlessly ratcheting up the number of people going to prison and dramatically expanding the time we hold them there,” she writes. “We’ve spent decades criminalizing people with drug dependency, passing extreme sentencing laws, and waging a war on drugs that has not diminished drug use.”
She’s written extensively about the failures of the war on drugs, informed partly by her experience defending dozens of black men wrongfully charged with minor drug offenses in Texas in the early 2000s. She’s also called for reforming the incentives police departments face for arresting low-level marijuana users: Federal funding for local law enforcement is based partly on arrest numbers.
Perhaps most significantly, though, she’s been a strong supporter of marijuana decriminalization and outright legalization by states.
– Read the entire article at The Washington Post.