AG Jeff Sessions has ordered federal judges to pursue the maximum punishment for drug offences, in a sweeping rollback of Obama-era criminal justice policies.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions made it clear on Friday that under his purview there is no such thing as a low-level drug offense.
Sessions issued a new policy instructing federal prosecutors to charge individuals with the “most serious, readily provable offense.” A one-and-a-half page memo issued by the Department of Justice makes clear that any previous policy that is inconsistent with the new directions is no longer in effect. In it, the Attorney General also signaled his support for mandatory minimum sentences, which had been a target of the previous Administration.
“By definition,” the memo reads, “the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”
Sessions’ approach is nearly the exact oppoe taken by the Obama Administration, which instructed prosecutors to do their best to avoid triggering mandatory minimum sentences when charging some low-level, non-violent drug offenders. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama insisted that there was both a moral and economic case for pursuing sentences that fit the crime committed—in their view, a first time, non-violent offender should not be forced to spend decades behind bars.
In his role as Attorney General, Sessions has indicated his Justice Department will take a hardline approach to all crime, particularly drug crime. During remarks at the Sergeants Benevolent Association Awards presentation in New York City on Friday, Sessions said his new approach is simply the “right and moral thing to do,” noting upticks in violent crime in several cities across the U.S. and linking those surges to drugs.
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