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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.
"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.
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, created in 1957 by the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, works to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society. The Division enforces federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, religion, familial status and national origin.