Criminal defense lawyers work to represent criminals who although they may have made a mistake, aren’t forced to sit behind bars for several years for a crime others might walk away from. Sessions recently issued a policy that encourages prosecutors to push for the maximum penalties to be served for anyone charged for a drug-related crime.
Criminals and others who have been wrongfully prosecuted for minimal drug crimes are now looking at serving the maximum punishment for drug offenses committed. The policy that was enforced by the Obama administration has been replaced with another that could ultimately lead to over-crowded jails with criminals found guilty of misdemeanor and non-violent drug crimes. Unfortunately, over-populated jails are already an issue which is why the policy went into effect, however, Attorney General Jeff Sessions feels tougher crime prosecutions need to occur.
Why is Sessions Ordering a New Policy?
According to NBC News, Sessions believes it is necessary that federal prosecutors “pursue the harshest punishments possible for a crime with multiple charges” as it “affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency.” Obviously more does need to be done in order to decrease the crime rate all throughout the country but is it going to if prosecutors put someone behind bars for a small charge of possession of marijuana?
If all criminals are faced with the maximum punishment, jails will be overrun and more government funding will be required to build new jails that can house the incoming criminals who weren’t given an alternative or were unable to afford a reliable criminal defense attorney. If this policy does stand strong, criminal defense lawyers can expect to have to fight more aggressively for their clients to receive a lower degree of punishment.
With the past policy that was proposed by former Attorney General Eric Holder, Holder took an approach that “directed prosecutors not to report the amount of drugs involved in an arrest if it would trigger mandatory minimums for non-violent offenders who had no ties to drug cartels or gangs and who did not sell to children.” He urged prosecutors to use incarceration to “punish, deter, and rehabilitate- not merely warehouse and forget.” Unfortunately, this is an occurring issue as many individuals who are jailed find themselves not only serving a long, drawn out sentence, but one that isn’t equal to others who committed the same crime.
This is where race and bias come into play and perhaps if Sessions is using his own views on how individuals are charged for drug-related crimes, his policy might not be fair, but bias.
What is Former Attorney General Eric Holder’s Viewpoint on the Policy?
Holder has stepped forward and spoken out on Session’s new policy, stating that it “is not tough on crime. Its dumb on crime.” He also stated that it was more of a cookie-cutter approach that is ideologically motivated. Holder also declared that “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no good law enforcement reason.”
So, one question that can be asked then is “Is Sessions’ new policy based on his own core values and beliefs or is it truly what is right for our society as a whole”?
As Sessions continues working in his role as Attorney General, it can be expected that he will use his own personal beliefs to help formulate the forthcoming policies he decides to push.