Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors this week to seek the maximum punishment for drug offenses, in one of the clearest breaks yet from the policies of the Justice Department under the Obama administration.
The move is an abrupt departure from policy made by President Barack Obama’s Attorney General, to reduce the number of people convicted of certain lower-level drug crimes being given long jail terms.
The change, “affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency,” Sessions said, in a memo to federal prosecutors written May 10 and made public Friday.
At a moment of bipartisan movement in many states for sentencing reform and wide agreement among experts that mass incarceration is counterproductive, Sessions is a true believer in old-fashioned tough on crime policies. Though, as his self-abasement in service of Trump demonstrates, he’s not actually against crime in general!
If Sessions weren’t impervious to evidence, he might bother to read the best scholarship on the causes and effects of mass incarceration. Aggressive prosecutors are already a key problem, and with this order Sessions wants them to be more aggressive. As John Pfaff said this morning:
Make no mistake: @jeffsessions “tough on crime” order reflects a willful refusal to accept 15 yrs of evidence about prison’s inefficiency.
— John Pfaff (@JohnFPfaff) May 12, 2017
By all accounts, Jeff Sessions is an amiable guy, a nice colleague. So was John Stennis.