May 12, 2017

NEW YORK —Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed the criminal justice policy by former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. that instructed prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with drug offenses that would prompt long mandatory minimum sentences. Sessions’ memo directs his federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties.

Udi Ofer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Campaign for Smart Justice, had this reaction:

“Jeff Sessions is pushing federal prosecutors to reverse progress and repeat a failed experiment — the War on Drugs — that has devastated the lives and rights of millions of Americans, ripping apart families and communities and setting millions, particularly Black people and other people of color, on a vicious cycle of incarceration.

“With overall crime rates at historic lows, it is clear that this type of one-dimensional criminal justice system that directs prosecutors to give unnecessarily long and unfairly harsh sentences to people whose behavior does not call for it did not work. It failed for 40 years, and from the halls of state legislatures to the ballot box, the American people have said with a clear voice that they want commonsense reforms to sentencing policy, and not a return to the draconian policies that have already cost us too much.”

The memorandum can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/other/jeff-sessions-charging-and-sentencing-policy

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