Bad Hombre Crackdown: Sessions Ramps War on Drug Traffickers

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Sessions has stated that if a prosecutor does not want to pursue the most serious charge, he or she must get the decision approved by a supervisor, such as a US attorney or assistant attorney general.

"This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency", Sessions wrote in a memo to USA attorneys made public early Friday.

"We are returning to the enforcement of the law as passed by Congress -- plain and simple".

SESSIONS: I have empowered our prosecutors to charge and pursue the most serious offense as I believe the law requires - most serious, readily provable offense.

So what does pursuing the maximum possible sentence for a heroin user look like?

According to data from the Sentencing Project, people of color comprise 37% of the total US population but 67% of the prison population. Lee was first inspired to take up the issue after encountering the case of Salt Lake City native Weldon Angelos - a hip-hop producer who was sentenced 55 years in prison for a first offense marijuana charge because a gun was also present at the scene of the crime. Sessions' move generated criticism from Democrats and civil rights groups, who said it could lead to unnecessarily long sentences for non-violent offenders. But existing research suggests that incarceration is an ineffective and inefficient road on the path to recovery.

Certainly, everyone wants to get tough on crime. The host of the show used my case to point out the injustice of mandatory minimum sentencing laws that Attorney General Eric Holder highlighted in his speech.

"This policy is simply common sense and will help reduce crimes and drugs in our neighborhoods", he said in a statement.

The new policy will no doubt increase both federal prosecutions and increase prison populations, a fact that will echo issues into the future. 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.

He further added that pursuing the harshest punishment possible for a crime with multiple charges is a policy that "affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, and is moral and just".

Unfortunately, according to Sessions' 2-page memo, prosecutors are ordered to forget these measurements.

"With overall crime rates at historic lows, it is clear that this type of one-dimensional criminal justice system that directs prosecutors to give unnecessarily long and unfairly harsh sentences to people whose behavior does not call for it did not work", Ofer said in a statement.

The move will send more people to prison and for much longer terms by triggering mandatory minimum sentences. "It is widely known that every $1 we spend on mass incarceration makes the country less safe, but Attorney General Sessions has not learned this lesson and is determined to continue the war on drugs with extremely brutal force".

"Abandoning this evidence-based progress and turning back the clock to a discredited, emotionally motivated, ideological policy also threatens the financial stability of the federal criminal justice system", Holder said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department.