Former AG Eric Holder Calls Jeff Sessions New Policy 'Dumb on Crime'

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In a memo Friday morning, Sessions formally withdrew a signature part of former Attorney General Eric Holder's "Smart on Crime" initiative, which sought to target the most serious crimes and reduce the number of defendants charged with nonviolent drug offenses that would otherwise trigger mandatory minimum sentences. In the memo, Sessions, who said in March that there was "too much of a tolerance for drug use", called for prosecutors to charge offenders with the "most serious, readily provable offense", deviating only in special circumstances and with the approval of a USA attorney general or assistant attorney general. Any deviance from the policies must also be cleared by higher-ups in the Justice Department.

"Most mandatory minimum sentences apply to drug offenses, but Congress has enacted them for other crimes, including certain gun, pornography, and economic offenses", according to Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' wide-ranging new crackdown on drug offenders could exacerbate one of America's most persistent public health tragedies: the heroin and opioid addiction epidemic that's been ravaging the country and killed almost 35,000 Americans in 2015 alone.

"Decades of experience shows we can not arrest and incarcerate our way out of America's drug problem".

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There is no love lost between Sessions and the CBC, whose members have long-denounced the new attorney general, a former Republican senator from Alabama, for his track record on issues as diverse as civil rights, immigration reform and criminal justice reform. The Judiciary panel advanced that measure in 2015 on a 15-5 vote.

"It's most unfortunate because as everyone knows, this country has the highest per capita prison population in the world and we know that this is partly a result of mandatory sentencing, where the judges don't have discretion", Scheindlin said. "Not a return to the draconian policies that have already cost us too much".

"Congress has to act now and serve as a check on the egregious behavior of Sessions' Justice Department", said Collins.

In a speech Friday morning in Washington, DC, to the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City, Sessions cited the heroin epidemic and rising rates of violent crime and murders in large cities as reasons for cracking down further on drug cases.

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Sessions long has been aggressive on drug crimes, starting in 1975 when he became a federal prosecutor, and later when he served as USA attorney for the Southern District of Alabama from 1981 to 1993. Holder agreed with Collins, stating "The policy announced today is not tough on crime". Sherrilyn Iffil, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said the Attorney General had "turned back the clock" on criminal justice and paved the way for disproportionate punishment of people of color. The Holder-era DOJ essentially gutted the mandatory minimum statutes from the '80s that were so effective in bringing down crime levels over the past two decades.

"Just saying we are going to incarcerate you doesn't fix the problem it actually increases the problem", Boyd said.

Unfortunately, according to Sessions' 2-page memo, prosecutors are ordered to forget these measurements. Crime increased during prohibition as Eliot Ness and the federal agents enforced prohibition laws. "That's the era Jeff Sessions wants to return us to".

"I agree with Attorney General Sessions that law enforcement should side with the victims of crime rather than its perpetrators", he said in a statement.

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