How Jeff Sessions' Mandatory Minimums Benefit Private Prisons
- Author: Salvatore Jensen May 22, 2017,
May 22, 2017, 12:19
In the memo, Sessions, who said in March that there was "too much of a tolerance for drug use", called for prosecutors to charge offenders with the "most serious, readily provable offense", deviating only in special circumstances and with the approval of a us attorney general or assistant attorney general. The memo announced Friday would urge USA attorneys to charge steeper crimes that would trigger long mandatory prison sentences, including for drug offenders.
Sessions' memo says there could be exceptions, but those cases must be approved by a US attorney, assistant attorney general or other supervisor, and the reasons documented in writing.
Violent drug lords and street gangs should be targeted with the full force of the law. "We intend to reverse this trend", said the attorney general, a former federal prosecutor known for his hard line against illegal drugs.
AG Sessions tells prosecutors to seek.
The policy shift has the potential to result in an increase of prisoners and longer sentences for drug crimes.
Mr Sessions said in a news conference that he has in fact "given prosecutors discretion to avoid injustice", but that does not mean they have the ability to ignore mandatory minimums.
We need to remember the past and how mandatory minimum sentencing destroyed our criminal justice system.
The move amounts to an unmistakable undoing of Obama administration criminal justice policies that aimed to ease overcrowding in federal prisons and contributed to a national rethinking of how drug criminals were prosecuted and sentenced.
The Justice Department's own data revealed just a year ago that, since I implemented Smart on Crime policies in 2013, prosecutors have used the discretion I gave them to focus on more serious drug cases.
The memo takes us back to the "War on Drugs" mentality that has led to our current age of mass incarceration, making the USA the world leader in the number of people incarcerated.
"Charging and sentencing recommendations are bedrock responsibilities of any prosecutor".
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, said in a statement that Sessions is trying to revive the "war on drugs", which she said "treated drugs, addiction and substance abuse as a crime instead of as a public health issue".
Criminal justice reform is yet another area for coordination and cooperation on both sides of the aisle but, this Administration is insistent on going in the wrong direction.
Yet by rescinding the Holder memos, the Trump administration has begun rolling this work back.
He suggests filing "the most serious, readily provable" charges with include substantial punishment and mandatory minimum sentences. The judge in my case knew I was not a drug dealer but because I went to trial and lost he had to give me a mandatory sentence.
Now, prosecutors will return to the highest level of the war on drugs, seeking to put away low-level offenders for decades, disrupting their lives and the lives of their families.
At a speech Friday in Washington, Sessions said the order was needed to combat an increase in violence in some large cities and the nation's opioid epidemic.