He is essentially reversing a 2013 memo from previous Attorney General Eric Holder, which advised federal prosecutors not to adhere to "mandatory minimums" for less serious crimes.
"The policy is not tough on crime". And, they say, the Justice Department's re-embrace of charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences will hamstring judges from making decisions rooted in the facts of a case, as opposed to preset minimums widely blamed for mass incarceration.
Brett Tolman, former USA attorney for Utah and a representative of the Law Enforcement Leaders group: "The Justice Department's expected shift to prosecuting and incarcerating more offenders, including low-level and drug offenders, is an ineffective way to protect public safety". A poll last month by the conservative Charles Koch Institute found that 81 percent of Trump voters think criminal justice reform is "very important," and 63 percent said judges should have the freedom to assign forms of punishments other than prison, which is the opposite of what mandatory-minimum sentences require. In doing so, Sessions and his team will be walking back years of progress made and will sentence generations to lower living standards. However, the federal prison population is expected to grow under Sessions' watch, considering both his battle against drug offenses and the Trump administration's immigration crackdown.
That memo encouraged prosecutors to use their discretion when filing criminal charges - especially in low-level drug offenses and other cases that elicited mandatory minimum sentences. As the nation's leading federal law enforcement official, the Attorney General has the authority to direct charging policy for all DOJ employees.
The Harvard Journal on Legislation critiqued the Holder memo as an "expansion of executive", essentially scrutinizing the method used to impose the policy (i.e. without the help of Congress).
"Drug dealers are going to prison", Sessions declared after getting an award from the NYPD's sergeants' union. Holder's recommendation had been aimed partly at helping reduce burgeoning prison populations in the U.S.
Under Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice will reverse this policy, despite a growing consensus to reduce incarceration of drug offenders.
"It ensures that the Department enforces the law fairly and consistently, advances public safety and promotes respect for our legal system", Sessions said in the memo.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, busy as he is with baldly involving himself in an investigation he is supposed to be recused from, has managed to find time to shove a largely unwilling country back into the catastrophically racist war on drugs of the '80s and '90s. "We will not be willfully blind to your conduct", Sessions said in prepared remarks. Generally, the move was viewed as a merciful step forward in the justice system, a reform after decades of harsh drug prosecution.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul also denounced the move, saying the move will "accentuate" the injustice faced by communities of color that have been adversely impacted by tough-on-crime policies in the past.
The U.S. Department of Justice released a memo today calling for a return to strict enforcement of mandatory minimum sentencing rules.
Violent crime has increased over the last two years in numerous nation's cities, though it is still far below rates in the 1990s.