Eric Holder: Sessions Memo 'Dumb on Crime'

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks in Central Islip N.Y. Sessions has directed the nation’s federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against the vast majority of suspects a reversa

Sessions' DOJ releases memo to all 94 US attorneys calling for reversal of Holder-era policy

This will likely lead to an increase in federal prosecutions and the populations of federal prisons, which seems to be a goal of Sessions's: he recently reversed a decision by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates barring privately owned prisons from housing federal prison inmates. This policy demands that the federal prosecutors "charge defendants with the most serious crime possible".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties.

The directive does allow prosecutors to show leniency in the cases that "would result in an injustice", but in all other cases, Sessions is ordering prosecutors to go for the throat.

The memo concedes there will be cases in which "good judgment" will warrant a prosecutor veering from that rule. "This policy fully utilizes the tools Congress has given us", Sessions told thousands of assistant USA attorneys in the memo.

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Reactions from criminal-justice reform circles have been unanimous, from lawmakers and law enforcement leaders to advocacy groups and criminologists.

"Drug dealers are going to prison", Sessions declared after getting an award from the NYPD's sergeants' union.

The head of a defense attorneys organization says Attorney General Jeff Sessions' directive that prosecutors pursue tougher charges against suspects has stripped them of their ability to seek justice.

Sessions attributes the need for a change in drug policy to the nation's opioid epidemic and increased violence in big cities. The move, announced in a policy memo sent to US attorneys late on May 10, has been expected from Sessions. Sessions was a key hold out on a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill in the Senate that would have cut back mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses. Prosecutors will have to receive approval from a US attorney or assistant attorney general if they want to charge a lesser offense, according to the memo.

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"We will do all that we can to keep you safe and promote public support for honorable officers in your unsafe work", Sessions said. Whether or not this is the case, the change will affect everyone and make it very hard for drug users to get clean after being imprisoned and incurring a record that will affect all future employment, housing and education.

However, Harvey said he doesn't think the move will create a "sea change" in how federal drug cases are handled in Kentucky because most low-level offenders are handled by state prosecutors rather than in federal court.

"We will enforce the laws passed by Congress pure and simple", he said at an awards ceremony in Washington D.C, adding that prosecutors deserved to be "unhandcuffed and not micro-managed from Washington".

Pollack says Sessions' policy sounds a lot like those of the drug war that "caused mass incarceration, devastated families and communities and failed to make us any safer".

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