AG Sessions tells prosecutors to seek 'most serious' charges

AG Sessions tells prosecutors to seek 'most serious' charges

AG Sessions tells prosecutors to seek 'most serious' charges

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors this week to seek the maximum punishment for drug offenses, in one of the clearest breaks yet from the policies of the Justice Department under the Obama administration.

Sierleja, a longtime federal prosecutor who was a finalist to be the next USA attorney for northern OH, said the public will likely see the memo's effects through an increased focus on cases involving large drug trafficking organizations. Many experts have maintained those laws resulted in offenders receiving very lengthy prison sentences when shorter terms would have been sufficient.

The new policy revokes Holder's previous guidance to prosecutors to not specify the quantity of drugs in the charges they brought to avoid triggering mandatory minimum sentences - provided the defendant did not have a significant criminal history, was not violent, or was not a leader of an organization or tied to a gang. "It is dumb on crime", Holder said in a statement.

"It is an ideologically cookie-cutter approach that has only been proven to generate unfairly long sentences that are often applied indiscriminately and do little to achieve long-term public safety", Holder said.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul was also outspoken in his disagreement with the policies Sessions sought to enact.

Sessions' policy, however, is broader than that of the Bush administration, and will be more reliant on the judgments of U.S. attorneys and assistant attorneys general. He cited the country's opioid addiction and rising murder rates in cities such as Chicago and Memphis, Tennessee.

"DOJ should focus on prosecuting violent criminals, not nonviolent drug offenders".

Sessions specifically did away with that practice Friday, writing, "prosecutors must disclose to the sentencing court all facts that impact the sentencing guidelines or mandatory minimum sentences".

The policy is an undoing of Obama-era policies that aimed to ease federal prison overcrowding and show lenience to lower-level, nonviolent drug offenders. "So we are returning to the enforcement of the law as passed by Congress - plain and simple". "Because millions and millions of people want to do drugs", he said. All it will cost is the lives and livelihoods of regular, non-violent Americans, a disproportionate number of which will be minority and male.

"This policy shift flies in the face of the growing bipartisan consensus that we need to reduce-not increase-the length of prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders", Durbin said in a statement Friday.

The 94 US attorneys were instructed in the memo to "charge and pursue the most serious and readily provable offense". "Is the attorney general saying this in drug cases, but not in white collar cases?"

He says the policy is simply an application of sentencing laws approved by Congress.

Directives from Eric Holder, Obama's first attorney general, gave prosecutors wide latitude on the types of cases they could file. As a senator, he was instrumental past year in blocking Senate action on a bill - supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, among many others - giving federal judges more discretion in imposing sentences for drug offenses.

Former U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey, who was the top federal prosecutor for the eastern half of Kentucky, said he was concerned that a multifaceted approach emphasizing prevention and treatment was being abandoned by the Trump administration.

The two-page memo, released to the public Friday morning, requires federal prosecutors to pursue the toughest possible charges and sentences against suspects.

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