Medicine

US prosecutors told to push for more, harsher punishments

US prosecutors told to push for more, harsher punishments

HolderObama AG rips Sessions as being "dumb on crime" Sessions orders tougher sentences in DOJ memo Comey served faithfully, but the president made the right decision MORE slammed Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsDem senators to DOJ: Investigate if Trump interfered in FBI's Russian Federation probe Obama AG rips Sessions as being "dumb on crime" GOP senator: Sessions's push for tougher sentences highlights "injustice" MORE on Friday for reversing his directive that was aimed at easing mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes.

"The policy announced today is not tough on crime", Holder said.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to St. Louis law enforcement officers on March 31.

Black and Hispanic offenders were far more likely to be hit with mandatory minimum sentences than those of other races, a 2011 report by the US Sentencing Commission said. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, has been one of the most vocal Republicans leading the effort and was critical of Sessions' new policy. However, the federal prison population is expected to grow under Sessions' watch, considering both his battle against drug offenses and the Trump administration's immigration crackdown. The memo itself cites the need to reserve mandatory minimum sentences for the highest level of drug offenders and the prosecutor's role in doing so given federal case law that requires judges follow mandatory minimums enacted by Congress when criminals are convicted under those statutes.

"Equal justice depends on individualized justice", Mr. Holder wrote, wiping clean [former Attorney General John] Ashcroft's 2003 orders to pursue "the most serious, readily provable offense in all federal prosecutions" and emphasize consistency in drug cases.

Now, despite years of progress, some drug policy experts are anxious that the shift in DOJ priorities could signal a return to that bygone era of draconian laws and strict enforcement.

"We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a new directive for federal prosecutors across the country: charge suspects with the most serious offense you can prove.

Former Attorney General Holder called the move "unwise and ill-informed" in a statement, adding that the policy is "is not tough on crime".

Mr Sessions also said that "these are not low-level drug offenders we in the federal courts are focusing on".

"More people in NY are dying of overdoses than we've ever had in history, both on the city and state level", Saunders said.

"We intend to reverse that trend", he said. Subsequent laws across the country laid down tough minimums for other crimes.

But Sessions said "it is important to note" that unlike previous memoranda, his policy gives prosecutors discretion to avoid sentences that "would result in an injustice".

Read NPR's piece on the policy change here and read Session's memo here. 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.

Sessions' statement on Friday confirms that the split among conservatives on crime remains deep and wide. Reform advocates say Sessions is rekindling the failed "War on Drugs" - and Sessions himself points to the opioid epidemic as the reason he wants to reinstate aggressive sentencing.

Violent crime has increased over the last two years in numerous nation's cities, though it is still far below rates in the 1990s.