US Justice Department orders tougher criminal punishments

13 Mai, 2017, 06:35 | Author: Claudine Rigal
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions makes opening remarks during a Drug Enforcement Administration 360 Heroin and Opioid Response Summit at the University of Charleston Thursday

Sessions said federal judges and prosecutors will now be un-handcuffed and not micro-managed, as he's directing them to pursue and charge suspects with the most serious offenses they can prove. Sessions of Alabama. At one point, Sessions said that "good people" don't do drugs like marijuana and said the reforms would "endanger" Americans. "They deserve to be unhandcuffed and not micro-managed from Washington".

"It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense", Sessions wrote.

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

In a statement Friday, Holder called the reversal "dumb on crime", saying it would be "financially ruinous" for the department to focus its spending on incarceration rather than preventing and investigating crime.

"It is an ideologically motivated, 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.

In a memorandum to Sessions, Rosenstein wrote that over the past year, "the FBI's reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo to federal prosecutors late Thursday, reversing an Obama-era policy that saw prosecutors unevenly applying the law. If the defendant fulfilled four requirements (no use of violence, not the organizer, no ties with gangs and, no significant criminal history), defendants should not plea for mandatory minimum sentences.

Mr Sessions' predecessor, Eric Holder, had instructed prosecutors in 2013 to avoid pursuing the maximum punishment for criminals in cases such as minor drug offences, which would have triggered mandatory minimum sentencing.

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Holder had ordered USA attorneys to drop the across-the-board tough-guy act Sessions is reviving and instead reserve the harshest sentencing enhancements and multi-layered indictments available in the law for offenders with clear links to violent crime and organized criminal syndicates.

The move swiftly drew outrage from progressives.

Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, an organization of almost 200 current and former police chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecutors, called the move an "ineffective way to protect public safety". This policy will destroy families. Mr. Sessions's policy, however, is broader than that of the Bush administration, and will be more reliant on the judgments of United States attorneys and assistant attorneys general.

"I find it quite insulting for him to categorize Memphis with some of the larger cities like Chicago", Boyd said. Under the new order, there is still room for prosecutors to decide to pursue less severe charges - but those decisions must be cleared with Sessions' office, which presumably will be a hard process.

Further, the federal prison population for all offenses decreased over the same period. No matter what CNN says, Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump aren't characters in a drama.

"We are returning to the enforcement of the law as passed by Congress - plain and simple". He is an adamant drug warrior whose positions have remained static even as many of his Senate colleagues updated their views on marijuana policy, mandatory minimum drug sentencing rules, and other 20th century relics of the War on Drugs.

In a memo he issued in March, Sessions had pointed out, "We do have strong evidence that aggressive prosecutions of federal laws can be effective in combating crime".

During the Obama administration, Holder's policy had sought to reduce the size of the federal prison system that has always been a financial drag on the Justice Department, representing about 25% of its budget. And the American Civil Liberties Union said Sessions is " pushing federal prosecutors to reverse progress and repeat a failed experiment-the War on Drugs". Poverty and crime go hand-in-hand, not drugs and crime.


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The new policy is expected to lead to more federal prosecutions and an increase in the federal prison population. And Sessions said prosecutors maintain "discretion to avoid sentences that would result in an injustice".

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