He’s the #1 law enforcement office in the land, and he is taking prisoners. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is challenging federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe charges possible against the majority of criminal suspects, reversing the Obama-era policies in the criminal justice system. This will most surely send more people to prison for significantly longer terms.
This move has been expected from Sessions, a former federal prosecutor who built his career during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic and who has promised to fight violence and drugs as the Justice Department’s top priority. “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 U.S. attorneys and made public early Friday.
Obama’s policies were aimed at easing overcrowding in federal prisons and tried to rethink how drug criminals were prosecuted and sentenced. Critics of the Attorney General’s tough stance say that it will subject more lower-level offenders to mandatory minimum sentences that will be unfairly harsh. But Sessions points to the spike in violence within our cities and the nation’s opioid epidemic as evidence we need tougher tactics. “The opioid and heroin epidemic is a contributor to the recent surge of violent crime in America,” Sessions said a Thursday speech in Charleston, West Virginia. “Drug trafficking is an inherently violent business. 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.”
The Attorney General issued a policy memo saying that prosecutors should “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.” This will trigger mandatory minimum sentences and limit a judge’s discretion. The memo did concede that there would be cases where the prosecutor would need to show “good judgment” and veer from the rule, but top supervisors should approve exceptions, and the reasons should be documented so that the Justice Department can track the handling of such cases.
This new aggressive policy against crime shift’s the policy of Sessions predecessor, Eric Holder. He issued his 2013 initiative known as “Smart on Crime,” which directed the system to go for shorter sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. This action coincided with U.S. Sentencing Commission changes that made tens of thousands of federal drug prisoners eligible for early release. The Obama administration also issued a clemency initiative that freed convicts that were deemed deserving of a second chance. All combined, these changes led to a broad decline in the federal prison population.
So which administration do you think had the better policy on crime and the prosecution of criminals, the Trump team or the Obama team?
Credit: MSN News