U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions has issued a memo to federal prosecutors around the country, directing them to seek harsher penalties for low-level offenses-bringing back the type of policy that contributed to the ballooning mass- incarceration system in the United States. That is sure to send more people to prison and for much longer terms by triggering mandatory minimum sentences.
But Sessions argues the shift in policy is a means of fulfilling the Justice Department’s “role in a way that accords with the law, advances public safety and promotes respect for our legal system”.
“We are returning to the laws as passed by Congress”, Sessions said Friday while announcing the new guidelines. The Justice Department released the new directives Friday. But low-level drug offenders should not be swept up in that net. Earlier this year, Sessions reversed a directive from the previous deputy attorney general Sally Yates that would stop the use of private prisons for holding federal prisoners. “You had people who weren’t able to be responsible fathers for their kids, who weren’t able to serve a couple of years for making a mistake, then come home and do better”. His policy, coined “smart on crime”, directed prosecutors to not report the amount of drugs seized in an arrest if it would trigger mandatory minimums for non-violent offenders with no ties to gangs or drug cartels or selling to children. Sessions held a news conference on the new policy earlier Friday and Trump has said he chose to fire Comey because the President thought he was doing a bad job and for being a “showboat”. Harvey said the intent was to give federal judges more flexibility in sentencing and reduce prison overcrowding.
Schiff questioned. But Sessions said drug crimes often lead to violent crimes.
Sessions’ policy memo rescinds Holder’s policies that discouraged prosecutors from seeking mandatory minimum sentences for some nonviolent, lower-level drug offenders. If you want to collect a drug debt, you can’t, and don’t, file a lawsuit in court. “You collect it by the barrel of a gun”. And Sessions said prosecutors maintain “discretion to avoid sentences that would result in an injustice”. I am disturbed at the enthusiasm of the Attorney General and this Administration to reinstate and enforce a policy will have no redeeming aspects on the rehabilitation of the prison population nor will make our communities safer.
The ACLU says Attorney General Jeff Sessions is “repeating a failed experiment” by encouraging prosecutors to pursue tougher charges against most suspects.
Violent crime has increased over the last two years in numerous nation’s cities, though it is still far below rates in the 1990s.
Sessions announced the change in a memo sent Thursday night to US attorneys and made public on Friday, saying it is “the right and moral thing to do”.
“As prosecutors, not our job to worry about the prison population”.
There are now around 190,000 in federal prison, with about half of the population in prison for drug crimes.
Obama officials cited that decline and a drop in the overall number of drug prosecutions as evidence that policies were working as intended. “We must use all three tools that are essential to fighting drug abuse: law enforcement, treatment and prevention”, he said on Thursday.
It marks the first significant criminal justice effort by the Trump administration to bring back the toughest practices of the drug war.