USA

Attorney General Tells Prosecutors to Seek 'Most Serious' Charges in Drug Cases

Attorney General Tells Prosecutors to Seek 'Most Serious' Charges in Drug Cases

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed prosecutors to make an about-face on criminal justice reform efforts made by the Obama administration.

"The policy is not tough on crime".

While Paul, Lee and other Republicans have tried to steer their party away from counterproductive "tough on crime" attitudes the GOP has been associated with in the past, Sessions seems firmly stuck in the 1980s, even once saying "good people don't smoke marijuana".

This isn't to say that there's no risk in investing in cannabis companies, but the risk investors face is likely more centered on the operations of the company being invested in, not from regulation.

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Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is among four people who will meet Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy Rod Rosenstein. Lindsey Graham of SC , who heads one of the congressional committees investigating Russia's interference in last year's election.

"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. "It is dumb on crime", he said in a statement. Previously, deputy attorney general Sally Yates had ordered the Justice Department to stop using private prisons for federal inmates, due to declining inmate numbers.

The change in policy will probably have the largest effect on non-violent drug offenders, for whom the Obama administration made a point to ease sentences in order to combat overcrowding in prisons.

During the Obama administration, Holder's policy had sought to reduce the size of the federal prison system that has always been a financial drag on the Justice Department, representing about 25% of its budget. In doing so, Sessions upholds the strict anti-drug policy laid out by the president. Sessions' move Friday nullified that memo. But as defense attorney firm Perlmutter & McGuiness points out, simple possession can often induce "intent to distribute" charges regardless of the drug amount involved.

Earlier DOJ Guidance that discouraged the federal prosecution of low-level drug offenders resulted in a 14% drop in federal prosecution of drug cases and a focus on more serious offenses and more unsafe offenders.

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Sessions contends a spike in violence in some big cities and the nation's opioid epidemic show the need for a return to tougher tactics. "The professionals in the U.S. Attorney's Office will continue our ongoing work with federal, state and local partners to reverse our crime trends and protect the innocent, in a manner that accords with the law and promotes respect for our legal system". His 2 page memo detailed his intentions of changing the stance on crime, telling the 5,000 or so US attorneys and district attorneys to "charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense".

"It looks like we're going to fill the prisons back up after finally getting the federal prison population down", said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

The former federal prosecutor who tried cases during the height of the crack epidemic directed his 5,000-plus assistant USA attorneys to zero in on drug traffickers.

A 1986 "War on Drugs" law meant to address the rise in crack cocaine forced judges to mete out lengthy sentences for repeat offenders. The memo rescinds a policy issued by the Obama administration in 2013.

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