Jeff Sessions Pushes For Harsher Punishments For Non-Violent Drug Offenders

Jeff Sessions Pushes For Harsher Punishments For Non-Violent Drug Offenders

Jeff Sessions Pushes For Harsher Punishments For Non-Violent Drug Offenders

"This policy fully utilizes the tools Congress has given us", Sessions told thousands of assistant USA attorneys in the memo.

"This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency", Sessions wrote in a memo to USA attorneys on Thursday night, reported the Associated Press.

"This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency", Sessions wrote in the two-page memo.

In announcing his policy, Holder said at the time, "With an outsized, unnecessarily large prison population, we need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter, and rehabilitate - not merely to warehouse and forget".

"Going forward, I have empowered our prosecutors to charge and pursue the most serious offenses as I believe the law requires", Sessions said.

The Washington Post reported that Sessions' directive essentially reverses an August 2013 charging and sentencing memo issued by former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. under President Barack Obama.

"I think it's a bad mistake for us to try to impose more prison time on low-level drug offenders".

Former Attorney General Holder called the move "unwise and ill-informed" in a statement, adding that the policy is "is not tough on crime". Half of all federal inmates serving sentences in 2015 were there on drug charges, and only seven percent for violent crimes; black Americans are jailed on drug offenses at a rate 10 times greater than whites, despite the fact that black and white people use drugs at about the same rates.

The Sessions memo is a reversal of Obama-era policies on low-level drug crimes.

In speeches across the country, including his first major address as attorney general, Sessions has talked of his belief that recent increases in serious crime might indicate that the United States stands at the beginning of a violent new period.

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

The goal of Holder's policy was to begin to roll back the war on drugs, which critics pointed out disproportionately impacted people of color, devastating millions of lives and contributing to America having a mass incarceration epidemic.

"This policy is simply common sense and will help reduce crimes and drugs in our neighborhoods", he said in a statement.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is telling the nation's federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against most suspects.

Reactions from criminal-justice reform circles have been unanimous, from lawmakers and law enforcement leaders to advocacy groups and criminologists.

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said the policy shift will raise prison costs, undermine "public safety priorities" and "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".

Obama administration officials cited that decline and a drop in the overall number of drug prosecutions as evidence that policies were working as intended.

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