Sessions Brings Back Tougher Drug Sentences

Attorney general overturns Obama-era guidelines
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2017 11:06 AM CDT

(Newser) – Keeping with President Trump’s promise to focus on law and order, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has told federal prosecutors to resume going after drug offenders with maximum penalties. His two-page memo rolls back the more lenient Obama-era order not to charge defendants that meet certain criteria with drug offenses that would bring long mandatory minimum sentences, reports the Washington Post. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sessions has suggested that lighter sentencing is at the root of America’s opioid epidemic as well as rising violent crime. The memo said prosecutors can allow exceptions to the order if they document their reasoning and gain approval from supervisors.

“There will be circumstances in which good judgment would lead a prosecutor to conclude that a strict application of the above charging policy is not warranted,” Sessions wrote. While some applaud the tougher sentencing policy, advocates of criminal justice reform are not happy. The ACLU said the move required prosecutors “to reverse progress and repeat a failed experiment—the War on Drugs—that has devastated the lives and rights of millions of Americans." Under the overturned guidelines by former Attorney General Eric Holder, prosecutors were told to go easier on nonviolent defendants without a criminal history who were not members of gangs. The new rules are expected to increase the number of inmates in federal prisons, notes the Journal. (Read more Jeff Sessions stories.)

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