Prior to being appointed the acting U.S. Attorney General, Andrew Whitaker was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, where he was notorious for seeking stiff sentences for those charged with drug offenses.
One woman, Raeanna Woody, was sentenced to 21 to 27 years in prison for possession of marijuana and delivering 12 grams of meth for her third drug offense, The Washington Post reported. Whitaker had offered her two options: life in jail or take a plea bargain for 21 to 27 years in prison. Whitaker’s office indicated that he was making an example of the drug offender. It was later found, by Judge Robert W. Pratt, that there was a misuse of authority since Woody’s case was a nonviolent crime.
Judge Pratt serves in the Southern District of Iowa. He took it upon himself to urge the Obama administration to commute Woody’s sentence. President Obama shortened her sentence and later commuted her sentence. Woody served 11 years of her 21 to 27 year sentence.
Whitaker, however, often sought longer sentences for those being charged with drug offenses. His office was the 2nd most likely of U.S. districts to use its power to impose harsher sentencing for drug charges. Iowa Federal Judge Mark W. Bennett looked into the data and noticed a “deeply troubling disparity” in the records.
“If the president can look at my case and he can see that what I had done wasn’t severe enough to warrant that many years, then why was I given that many years to begin with, why was that much of my life taken from me? I blame Whitaker’s office and everybody underneath him,” said Woody.
This does raise some concern while Whitaker is the acting U.S. Attorney General.
President Trump has voiced support for a bill that would let judges have more discretion over the sentencing of nonviolent drug offenders to impose reduced sentences. Whitaker may cause trouble to influence how or if this legislation gets passed.
Whitaker’s past reveals he is just another antiquated, drug-hating bureaucrat, much like Jeff Sessions. When the pressure is on him, he changes his tune, but the records don’t lie: he’s exceedingly and needlessly harsh on drug offenders.
Whitaker’s appointment by Trump as acting AG has not been confirmed by the Senate yet, so the job placement is under scrutiny and causing much controversy.