Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making the law tougher, yet he’s taking some heat for the move.
He has ordered his federal prosecutors to start looking for the harshest possible charges and sentences against criminal suspects, which reverses the Obama administration’s easing up on the penalties for non-violent drug crimes.
A Drastic Shift Not Well Accepted by the Public
This dramatic change of events is Mr. Sessions’ first stamp on the Justice Department and what the American people can expect for the next four years.
Members of Congress, however, shared mixed reviews to the directive that may increase the number of non-violent drug offenders in prisons, reports CNN.
Members of the Democratic and Republican parties have sought changes to the laws in the past, and critics say the mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly plagued minorities and imprisoned them for far too long. Attorney General Sessions’ new policy is thought to accentuate rather than fix the injustice, states the opposition to the new approach.
Attorney General Sessions disagrees. In his opinion, the new policy is common sense. He feels it will reduce crimes and drugs in the neighborhoods, especially if offenders are aware of enhanced penalties as a risk of the crime.
Naturally, Democrats Disagree
Democrats were the biggest opponents of the announcement and state that it was no coincidence Sessions memo was announced the same day President Trump fired James Comey – so limited media coverage picked up the policy changes.
The End of the Holder?
The Holder memo, which issued in August 2013, instructed federal prosecutors to avoid charging defendants with drug crimes that would create long-term mandatory minimum sentences. It was Obama’s response to the rising numbers of incarcerated non-violent criminals, and a way to reduce prison sentences and population numbers.
Civil liberties advocates were for the Holder, feeling that it would prevent people from dealing with long-term consequences for crimes that do not warrant such harsh punishment.
However, Sessions’ announcement and new policy change that he outlined in a two-page memo and sent to United States attorneys across the country make it clear that he is rescinding the Holder policy immediately.
Sessions makes it clear in his statement that he is not focusing on low-level drug offenders, and the federal courts deal with high-level and high-volume offenders that should receive mandatory minimum sentences, reports The Washington Post.
Some crimes Sessions mentions include drug trafficking, which is dangerous and violent. Also, collecting drug debts with the use of weapons is another he wants to target.
Advocates have condemned his measure and condemn the idea of returning to ineffective policies.
Sessions Ready to Target Worst of the Worst
Sessions is showing the public that he is willing to take a shift on policy in address drug dealing, gun crimes, and gang operations throughout the United States. By reversing this policy, he can instill mandatory minimum sentences on offenders who are likely to offend upon release and teach the public that there are no shortcuts to criminal acts.
Mr. Sessions has returned to the guidance essentially of George W. Bush, by calling for uniform punishments that include mandatory sentence minimums and encouraging prosecutors to impose the harshest penalties possible for the crime.
The policy is only reinforcing laws that Congress passed years ago.
A Revival of the War on Drugs? Possibly So
Critics feel that Sessions is reopening the war on drugs, but supporters of the change believe that a war on drugs is once again necessary. With the numbers of offenders continuing to rise, an eased approach is obviously not deterring crimes. So, Sessions strategy of enhancing penalties to discourage such acts in the future could get results.