Lindsey Bever reports in the Washington Post:
“A week after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” and follow mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, a bipartisan group of prosecutors at the state and local level is expressing concern.
Thirty current and former state and local prosecutors have signed an open letter, which was released Friday by the nonprofit Fair and Just Prosecution, a national network working with newly elected prosecutors. The prosecutors say that even though they do not have to answer Sessions’s call, the U.S. Attorney General’s directive “marks an unnecessary and unfortunate return to past ‘tough on crime’ practices” that will do more harm than good in their communities.
“What you’re seeing in this letter is a different wind of change that’s blowing through the criminal justice field,” said Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor and executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution.
“There does seem at the federal level to be a return to the tough-on-crime, seek-the-maximum-sentence, charge-and-pursue-whatever-you-can-prove approach,” Krinsky said. But, she added, at a local level, some believe “there are costs that flow from prosecuting and sentencing and incarcerating anyone and everyone who crosses the line of the law, and we need to be more selective and smarter in how we promote both the safety and the health of our communities.”
Signers of the letter include Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and Karl Racine, attorney general of the District of Columbia.
The prosecutors say that there are no real benefits to Sessions’s May 10 directive, but they noted “significant costs.”
The letter states:
The increased use of mandatory minimum sentences will necessarily expand the federal prison population and inflate federal spending on incarceration. There is a human cost as well. Instead of providing people who commit low-level drug offenses or who are struggling with mental illness with treatment, support and rehabilitation programs, the policy will subject them to decades of incarceration. In essence, the Attorney General has reinvigorated the failed “war on drugs,” which is why groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Cato Institute to Right on Crime have all criticized the newly announced policy.”
Read the complete article at the above link.
As mentioned in an earlier posting, a bipartisan group of Senators, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is also pushing back against Sessions’s prosecution policies.