Attorney General Jeff Sessions just threw out an Obama administration policy of lax law enforcement by ordering federal prosecutors “to pursue the most serious charges possible against criminal suspects,” according to Fox News.
The announcement has reportedly infuriated civil rights groups.
“This is a key part of President Trump’s promise to keep America safe,” Sessions reportedly said. “We’re seeing an increase in violent crime in our cities – in Baltimore, Chicago, Memphis, Milwaukee, St. Louis and many others. The murder rate has surged 10 percent nationwide – the largest increase since 1968.”
Sessions sent a letter Thursday to 94 U.S. attorneys around the country that detailed this dramatic reversal of an Obama-era policy. The change will, according to published reports, send more criminals to jail, and for longer terms.
There is no small amount of irony with this announcement. The Obama administration was no friend to gun owners, but it was the firearms community that two decades ago championed “Hard Time for Armed Crime” and “Three Strikes and You’re Out” laws.
Reacting to the announcement, Bishop Ron Allen with the International Faith Based Coalition, appeared on Fox & Friends Friday to declare, “The Obama administration has made the drug epidemic in this nation worse.”
He asserted that the Obama policy, under former Attorney General Eric Holder, was to try to get drug users into rehabilitation rather than prison. Sessions appears to have just brought that to a screeching halt.
Fox News explained what allegedly happened under the previous administration:
“The move, which will send more criminals to jail and for longer terms by triggering mandatory minimum sentences, explicitly reverses policies set in motion by President Obama’s former Attorney General Eric Holder – who implemented the ‘Smart on Crime’ drug sentencing policy that focused on not incarcerating people who committed low level, non-violent crimes. DOJ officials call it a ‘false narrative’ and say unless a gun is involved, most of those cases aren’t charged period.”
The Associated Press report published Friday by the Seattle Times confirmed that position, noting:
“The directive rescinds guidance by Sessions’ Democratic predecessor, Eric Holder, who told prosecutors they could in some cases leave drug quantities out of charging documents so as not to trigger long sentences. Holder’s 2013 initiative, known as ‘Smart on Crime,’ was aimed at encouraging shorter sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and preserving Justice Department resources for more serious and violent criminals.”
The Associated Press report quoted Barry Pollack, head of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who was critical of the new policy. He said this reversal “marks a return to the failed policies of past administrations that caused mass incarceration, devastated families and communities, wasted untold millions of dollars and failed to make us any safer.”