Monday, 23 October, 2017

AG Jeff Sessions reverses end Smart On Crime initiative

Owen Mccarthy | 27 May, 2017, 00:08

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' two-page memo to USA attorney's offices across the country, calling for stricter criminal charges and sentencing, could harm those already behind bars.

The move is a reversal of ex-President Barack Obama's policy to reduce jail time for low-level drug crimes. 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 opioid and heroin epidemic is a contributor to the recent surge of violent crime in America", Sessions said in a speech Thursday.

"(These included) to seek lower charging and lower sentencing in nonviolent drug cases, where the defendant wasn't a major or principle in a major drug ring, wasn't a multiple recidivist, wasn't a leader in a drug ring", said David Gray, law professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. "You collect it by the barrel of a gun". "The largest increase in murder since 1968 and we know that drugs and crime go hand-in-hand, they just do, the facts prove that so", Sessions said. "It is dumb on crime", he said in a statement.

That being an era of accountability, where enforcing the law takes precedent over political objectives. 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. The change would trigger longer prison sentences.

Mr Sessions' guidance rescinds Mr Holder's approach, directing prosecutors to disclose all information about a case to the courts and follow current sentencing rules.

"It doesn't do anything more in many incidents than increase the population of our prison system".

And in an apparent reference to Obama administration policies, he said "It is important to note that unlike previous charging memoranda, I have given our prosecutors discretion to avoid sentences that would result in an injustice".

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When President Trump came into office and appointed Jeff Sessions, drug war activists feared that he would take away the tremendous progress that was gained under the Obama administration. "These are drug dealers, and you drug dealers are going to prison". "Sessions is leaving little to no room for prosecutors to use their judgement and determine what criminal charges best fit the crime".

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' wide-ranging new crackdown on drug offenders could exacerbate one of America's most persistent public health tragedies: the heroin and opioid addiction epidemic that's been ravaging the country and killed almost 35,000 Americans in 2015 alone.

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

"The data showed that while they brought fewer indictments carrying a mandatory minimum sentence, the prosecutions of high-level drug defendants had risen and that cooperation and plea rates remained effectively the same", Holder said.

"I trust our prosecutors in the field to make good judgments", he said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, offered praise for Sessions' new action, saying "law enforcement should side with the victims of crime rather than its perpetrators".

Pollack says Sessions' policy sounds a lot like those of the drug war that "caused mass incarceration, devastated families and communities and failed to make us any safer".

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