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Sessions revives failed drug policies

Sessions revives failed drug policies

In a response to Mr. Sessions's move obtained by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Mr. Holder noted on Friday that federal prosecutors focused on "more serious drug cases" after his policy took effect. Mr. Holder also faced legal constraints, though he pressed against them aggressively: His policy involved declining to list the quantity of drugs in the possession of certain petty, nonviolent defendants, so as not to trigger automatic, harsh sentences.

Members of Congress reacted Friday with mixed reviews - some sharply critical - of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' new directive that could potentially ramp up criminal charges in cases involving nonviolent drug crimes. If you want to collect a drug debt, you can't, and don't, file a lawsuit in 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".

Tough sentences were emblematic of the distrust many communities of color held for law enforcement and the justice system.

"These reversals will be both substantively and financially ruinous, setting the Department back on a track to again spending one third of its budget on incarcerating people, rather than preventing, detecting, or investigating crime" Holder said of Sessions's decision in a statement on Friday.

He suggests filing "the most serious, readily provable" charges with include substantial punishment and mandatory minimum sentences. "You collect it by the barrel of a gun". "It is an ideologically motivated, cookie-cutter approach that has only been proven to generate unfairly long sentences that are often applied indiscriminately and do little to achieve long-term public safety".

"While we appreciate the attorney general's commitment to reducing crime and combating unsafe opioid abuse, we think his strategy is misguided, unsupported by evidence, and likely to do more harm than good", FAMM said. In 2013, when the Obama administration changed policies, the population was at a staggering 220,000, causing an overcrowding in the prisons that was become too large to handle.

The repercussions of this move will undoubtedly reverse the decline in the federal prison population of recent years, incarcerate more people engaged in the lower levels of the drug trade, and exacerbate racial and ethnic disparities in the federal criminal justice system.

Obama officials cited that decline and a drop in the overall number of drug prosecutions as evidence that policies were working as intended. He argues Holder's approach sidestepped federal laws that impose such sentences and created inconsistency across the country in the way defendants are punished. "Instead, we must direct resources to treatment and to specifically combating violent crime", said Brett Tolman, a former USA attorney in Utah.

Still, some prosecutors felt constrained by the Holder directive and expressed concern that they'd lose plea bargaining leverage - and a key inducement for cooperation - without the ability to more freely pursue mandatory minimum sentences.

"I trust our prosecutors in the field to make good judgments", Sessions said.

"They deserve to be un-handcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington", he said.

Associated Press writer Errin Haines Whack in Philadelphia contributed.

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