Sessions' predecessor slams sentencing policy
- Author: Audrey Hill May 14, 2017,
May 14, 2017, 1:19
Attorney General Jeff Sessions drew backlash from an array of liberal and conservative critics on Friday after he rescinded an Obama-era policy and ordered federal prosecutors to begin charging suspects with the "most serious, readily provable" offenses that carry the harshest sentences.
This move reverses guidance from former Attorney General Eric Holder, who permitted prosecutors to leave unmentioned in the charges they brought the quantity of drugs involved in these low-level cases.
Now, if prosecutors wish to pursue lesser charges for these low-level crimes, they will need to obtain approval for the exception from a USA attorney, assistant attorney general or another supervisor.
"This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency", Sessions wrote in a memo sent Thursday night to US attorneys and made public early Friday. As for Norman Brown, he hopes the new attorney general will change his mind. Sessions of Alabama. At one point, Sessions said that "good people" don't do drugs like marijuana and said the reforms would "endanger" Americans.
We must ensure that our most severe mandatory minimum penalties are reserved for serious, high-level, or violent drug traffickers.
During the Obama administration, Holder's policy had sought to reduce the size of the federal prison system that has always been a financial drag on the Justice Department, representing about 25% of its budget.
The Justice Department's own data revealed just previous year that, since I implemented Smart on Crime policies in 2013, prosecutors have used the discretion I gave them to focus on more serious drug cases.
The new Justice Department policy was met with fierce criticism from sentencing advocates, some former federal prosecutors and even some Republicans in Congress who have been pursuing sentencing-reform measures.
Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated too many minorities for too long.
He added that Sessions' policy was an "unwise and ill-informed decision" and that Congress should enact criminal-justice legislature to reverse the move.
"We know that drugs and crime go hand in hand", Sessions said in his Friday speech.
Vox reports that in 2015, "Trump outright told MSNBC that he's "tough on crime.' He praised Vice President Mike Pence for increasing mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes as governor of Indiana".
Mr Sessions' change in policy furthers the discrimination in the U.S. criminal justice system.
The policy was also criticized by Sen. Holder said Justice Department data showed a year ago that while the number of indictments carrying a mandatory minimum sentence declined since his policy was implemented, prosecutions of high-level drug defendants had increased.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions' two-page memo to US attorney's offices across the country, calling for stricter criminal charges and sentencing, could harm those already behind bars.
The order had been expected from Sessions, a former prosecutor during the height of the US crack cocaine epidemic, who vowed that combating violence and illegal drugs would be the Justice Department's top priority. Combined, those changes led to a steep decline in a federal prison population that now stands at just under 190,000, down from almost 220,000 in 2013. His defenders will likely attempt to dismiss criticism as partisanship inspired by loyalty to the erstwhile Obama administration.