Sessions Turns Back The Clock, Restores Drug War Policies

Sessions Turns Back The Clock, Restores Drug War Policies

"By design, mandatory sentencing laws take discretion away from judges so as to impose harsh sentences, regardless of circumstances".

Comparing Sessions' memo with earlier memos from Holder, Yancey said, "The languages are a little different, but I think the end result is the same - that you are authorized to use your discretion to seek the fair and just result is how I read both memos".

The new Justice Department policy was met with fierce criticism from sentencing advocates, some former federal prosecutors and even some Republicans in Congress who have been pursuing sentencing-reform measures.

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN): " Harsher sentences for non-violent drug crimes cost taxpayers more money and waste limited resources that are needed to go after more unsafe, violent offenders who put the public at risk. The bill is meant to make the nation's probation system better at keeping former prisoners out of jail, while focusing mandatory minimums on those at the top of drug rings, rather than the low-level offenders who can find themselves facing decades in prison for a first offense.

The federal change is also likely to increase the number of people in the United States who are sentenced to US prison.

Federal inmates represent a sliver of the overall USA prison population of more than 1.5 million, according to Justice Department statistics. One study by researchers at Washington University, St. Louis, accounting for lost wages and socio-economic costs of incarceration, put the figure closer to $1 trillion per year.

"The policy announced today is not tough on crime", Holder said. "It is dumb on crime", Mr. Holder said in a statement Friday. "This absurd reversal is driven by voices who have not only been discredited but until now have been relegated to the fringes of this debate".

Sessions said the new policy is needed to enforce the law "fairly and consistently", calling for the nation to go back to mandatory minimum sentencing for serious crimes.

Sessions said the crackdown was "a key part of President Trump's promise to keep America safe", linking drug trafficking to increased homicide rates in some cities. "We must reform our criminal justice system".

Paul has pushed for reforms to the criminal justice system, including reduction of mandatory minimum sentences on drug crimes, expungement of felony records and restoration of voting rights, though the proposals haven't garnered enough support to get a floor vote. Thanks to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, those caught in possession of crack cocaine, usually minorities, received harsher sentences than those found with the powder form of the drug.

"The only people who benefit from these laws are those who have a financial stake in imprisonment: the private prison industry and vendors to the public system".

It took a long time for an American public that was long terrified of drugs and crime to come around to the reality that the almost half-century-long war on drugs was, in fact, a war on ourselves, and that locking up non-violent drug offenders ruined lives, destroyed families, and disproportionately afflicted the most vulnerable among us by creating an underclass forever branded with the stain of conviction and imprisonment.

"Drug trafficking is an inherently violent business", he said. Unfortunately, I can not say that I am surprised. "Mass incarceration has destroyed lives & devastated our minority communities".

"Jeff Sessions wants to turn back the block on the progress we've made on sentencing reform - and we must speak out against it".

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