“Prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued a memo to all 94 U.S. attorneys to advise them of a new charging and sentencing policy within the Department of Justice. This policy demands that the federal prosecutors “charge defendants with the most serious crime possible.” He wrote:
First, it is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense. ” This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency. This policy utilizes the tools Congress has given us. By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.
The Sessions memo provides an out for prosecutors, with a few warnings. If the prosecutors do not think they need to apply the strict policy, they must receive permission from a “United States Attorney or Assistant Attorney General or a supervisor designated by the United States Attorney or Assistant Attorney General.” The prosecutors must keep an official file that provides the reasons for deviating from the policy.
Sessions reminds prosecutors that they “should carefully consider whether an exception may be justified” if they do not think they should apply the new policy.
Second, prosecutors must disclose to the sentencing court all facts that impact the sentencing guidelines or mandatory minimum sentences, and should in all cases seek a reasonable sentence under the factors in 18 U.S.C § 3553. In most cases, recommending a sentence within the advisory guideline range will be appropriate. Recommendations for sentencing departures or variances require supervisory approval, and the reasoning must be documented in the file.
Here is the text of 18 U.S. Code § 3553.
This policy will probably lead to more convictions and a higher prison population. From The Washington Post:
“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,” Udi Ofer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Campaign for Smart Justice, said in a statement. “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.”
Now the MSM has gone into a tizzy and concentrated on drug offenses, but the memo does not mention drugs at all. Yet, it doesn’t exclude them and we all know Sessions is still madly in love with the war on drugs.
After all, the memo will overturn former Attorney General Eric Holder’s “Smart on Crime” policy. From Fox News:
Holder, who served under the Obama administration, implemented the “Smart on Crime” drug sentencing policy that focused on not incarcerating people who committed low level non-violent crimes.
The Obama administration used the “Smart on Crime” policy to combat what they believed was a high number of prosecutions of non-violent drug offenders. DOJ officials call it a “false narrative” and say unless a gun is involved, most of those cases aren’t charged period.
Officials say Holder’s “Smart on Crime” policy “convoluted the process,” and left prosecutors applying the law unevenly, which they said “is not Justice.”
Critics of the shift say it will revive the worst aspects of the drug war. But Sessions has said a spike in violence in some big cities shows the need for a return to tougher tactics.
Back in February, Sessions suggested he and the DOJ will review marijuana policies. From The Hill:
“We have a responsibility to use our best judgment … and my view is we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana,” he said at the winter meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General.
“I’m dubious about marijuana. I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana sold at every corner grocery store.”
Former President Barack Obama made no effort to stop states that voted to legalize recreational and medical marijuana.DONATE
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