Jeff Sessions Addresses Law Enforcement In St. Louis About Combatting Crime
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses law enforcement members on March 31, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael B. Thomas—Getty Images

Jeff Sessions Issues New Criminal Charging and Sentencing Policy

May 12, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a new criminal charging and sentencing policy Friday, directing prosecutors to pursue the most serious, provable offenses against the defendants that carry the maximum penalties.

Sessions' memorandum says it is "a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense. This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency. This policy fully utilizes the tools Congress has given us. By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences."

This new memo rescinds the policy put in place by former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr., the Washington Post reports, who directed his prosecutors to avoid bringing drug charges that would carry longer mandatory minimum sentences against certain defendants.

Sessions' directive says there can be exceptions when a prosecutor's "good judgment" determines so, but those exceptions need to be approved by a United States Attorney or Assistant Attorney General and laid out in writing. Overall, the policy fits into the larger framework of Sessions' promise to crack down on drugs and President Trump's calls to be tough on crime.

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