Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Samantha Bee’s tale of two drug cases puts Jeff Sessions’ throwback drug war on trial

Illustration for article titled Samantha Bee’s tale of two drug cases puts Jeff Sessions’ throwback drug war on trial

On this week’s Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, Bee sandwiched her weekly rundown of the various layers of bullshit the Trump administration is burying the country under to focus on the predictably racist and atavistic drug policies of currently embattled Attorney General and “apple-cheeked hate-hate goblin” (Bee’s words), Jeff Sessions. Heading down to Texas, Bee’s cameras examined the criminal justice experiences of two very different people arrested on what turned out (much) later to be false drug charges. There’s a twist ending to the story, so NO SPOILERS!

One, a 20-something bro named Ross, was pulled over for not signaling and arrested for drug possession when the officer in question found a lumpy dress sock with what he assumed—and a drug-detecting “field test” confirmed—was about a bare foot’s-worth of crystal meth. The other, a middle aged guy named Barry pulled over for reasons not entirely clear, had a gun magazine (not an ammo clip, the kind you read) in his back seat, and was arrested when the many officers who stopped him scraped together a minute amount of something the field test said was cocaine. Ross’ dad found a cool, laid-back, guitar-playing criminal lawyer who got the very chill Ross a reduced bond. Barry couldn’t bond out, and was threatened with the sort of maximum drug sentence Jeff Sessions (a.k.a. “Dobby,” again according to Bee) wants to bring back, undoing Obama-era sentencing reforms. Ross can laugh now about his test coming back as positive for kitty litter (apparently that’s a thing you can do to keep you car windows from fogging up).


Barry, on the advice of his court-appointed lawyer, pled guilty, as many defendants do to avoid maximum sentences, even when the actual test hasn’t been performed yet, and spent 180 days in jail. On release, as a convicted drug felon, he also lost his public assistance—and his car. (Ross got his back.) Ross jokes that he and his rich dad are going to market a kitty litter-filled novelty car-sock. Barry is seen crying over his ordeal, and has moved the hell out of Texas. And those field tests, according to a scientist quoted in the segment, can come back with a false positive for about two dozen commonplace substances (including pasta sauce, Krispy Kreme donut glaze, and—not a joke—air). And Jeff Sessions (“a VHS copy of Reefer Madness,” in Bee’s estimation), not only wants to apply these draconian, unfair, and demonstrably ineffective mandatory minimum sentences to every drug case in the land, but has also dismantled the National Forensic Science Commision, which was tasked with ensuring the accuracy of field tests, among other things.

Oh, and that twist ending about Ross and Barry? You damned well know it already.