Bipartisan Group of Senators Push Back on Sessions

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  Bipartisan Group of Senators Push Back on Sessions

Posted by CN Staff on May 17, 2017 at 16:02:09 PT
By Sari Horwitz 
Source: Washington Post 

Washington, D.C. --  Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s former colleagues in the Senate are pushing back on his order to federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties possible for defendants, including mandatory minimum sentences, and introducing legislation to give federal judges more discretion to impose lower sentences.Republican Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who co-sponsored the legislation, said that Sessions’s new policy will “accentuate” the existing “injustice” in the criminal justice system.
“Mandatory minimum sentences disproportionately affect minorities and low-income communities, while doing little to keep us safe and turning mistakes into tragedies,” said Paul. “As this legislation demonstrates, Congress can come together in a bipartisan fashion to change these laws.”Last week, in a two-page memo to federal prosecutors across the country, Sessions overturned former attorney general Eric H. Holder’s sweeping criminal charging policy that instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. In its place, Sessions told his more than 5,000 assistant U.S. attorneys to charge defendants with the most serious crimes, carrying the toughest penalties.After Sessions released his new policy, it drew bipartisan criticism that the policy would mark a return to mass incarceration, especially of minorities. It was embraced, however, by the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, whose president said it would restore more tools to do their jobs.“An outgrowth of the failed War on Drugs, mandatory sentencing strips critical public safety resources away from law enforcement strategies that actually make our communities safer,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).Leahy and Paul introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore). Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Rep. Bobby “Scott (D-Va.) are introducing a companion bill in the House. The legislation would allow federal judges to tailor sentences on a case-by-case basis. It would also reduce correctional spending, which currently accounts for nearly a third of Justice Department’s budget.“Attorney General Sessions’s directive to all federal prosecutors to charge the most serious offenses, including [those that trigger] mandatory minimums, ignores the fact that mandatory minimum sentences have been studied extensively and have been found to distort rational sentencing systems, discriminate against minorities, waste money and often require a judge to impose sentences that violate common sense,” Scott said.During President Barack Obama’s second term, similar sentencing reform legislation was introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.The legislation, which had 37 sponsors in the Senate, including Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), and 79 members of the House, would have reduced some of the long mandatory minimum sentences for gun and drug crimes. It also would have given judges more flexibility in drug sentencing and made retroactive the law that reduced the large disparity between sentencing for crack cocaine and powder cocaine.The bill, introduced in 2015, had support from outside groups as diverse as the conservative Koch brothers, the NAACP and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). But Sessions, then the longtime Republican senator from Alabama, became a leading opponent of the bill and successfully worked with other senators to derail it.As he has done as attorney general, Sessions said then it was the wrong time to cut prison sentences for drug traffickers and other criminals and cited the spike in crime in several cities and his belief that an era of near historically low crime rates might be coming to an end.In a conference call with reporters, Paul acknowledged that lawmakers will have an “uphill battle” getting support from the White House for the sentencing reform bill.Sari Horwitz covers the Justice Department and criminal justice issues nationwide for The Washington Post, where she has been a reporter for 30 years. Source: Washington Post (DC)Author:  Sari HorwitzPublished: May 17, 2017Copyright: 2017 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL:  Justice Archives 

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Comment #15 posted by FoM on May 24, 2017 at 07:53:29 PT

Trump is One Scary Guy
Donald Trump is a Fan of Philippine dictator’s Inhumane War on Drugs
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Comment #13 posted by afterburner on May 20, 2017 at 08:58:36 PT

Carl Hart, Yes Hope, He's a National Treasure
Carl Hart, I discovered his refreshing works and honorable science-based attitudes either on medical cannabis TV shows and/or streaming video online.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #12 posted by Hope on May 20, 2017 at 07:44:47 PT

Whoo hoo, Afterburner! I agree with your prayer!
I love those "Claiming" prayers"!Amen and amen!Lord, do that, please, if you will!"A prolific newshawk machine"... well, yes, I am! Or can be, Lol!. You know I was a Newshawk for Media Awareness Project for several years. I even got the honor of being an assistant editor under Richard Lake, Jo-D. Jo-D and Richard taught me so much about how to use a computer and newshawk. That was my password for the NYT... Newshawk 22. Discovering the Media Awareness Project and all you guys at our weekend confabs on the chat was a major event in this struggle for me. You were there! I do feel good, thank you. I'm filled with wonder every day that I'm still well and still alive.I was glad, myself, to see some of the things I found yesterday. I found most of it at Stop the Drug War. Discovering Dr. Hart and his work was amazing. How could I have not known about him? He's a power house and one of the voices we need. I'm so thankful for him.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #11 posted by afterburner on May 20, 2017 at 06:26:58 PT

A Morning Prayer at the Start of another Holy Day
I am claiming the blessings that are flowing from our almighty most-high Creator for the benefit of the healing of the nations of this small wonderful planet, floating in a cosmic sea of billions and billions of stars. I am claiming the redemption of ourselves, our families, our neighbours, our friends, our co-workers, and strangers (those friends we haven't met yet) by the life of the anointed son and his mission to all who have ears to hear. I am claiming the victory for us all in the struggle against the dark forces of principalities and powers by the spirit of great love and overwhelming truth.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #10 posted by afterburner on May 20, 2017 at 05:29:12 PT

Hope: Lady, You Are on Fire Lately
You have become a prolific newshawk machine. Godspeed, I am praying for your continued health and energy. Thank you so much for your many rays of Hope in these times of government chaos. Thanks for finding so many examples of progress hidden by the political in-fighting that bombards us daily.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on May 19, 2017 at 15:01:42 PT

Dr. Hart
That's a wonderful website.Excerpt from somewhere in the website: Hart fearlessly pushes back against respectability politics and shame in black communities, demanding a shift in dialogue that includes human beings having autonomy over what they put into their own bodies; following the data on what is dangerous to consume and in what quantities; realizing that not all drug use is problematic; zeroing in on the drug war as an intentional and institutional war on the most vulnerable, oppressed and marginalized communities both domestic and abroad; and calling out state violence, specifically hypermilitarized policing, as more dangerous for black people than drugs.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #8 posted by Hope on May 19, 2017 at 14:27:37 PT

Dr. Carl Hart 
Dr. Carl Hart Scientist Activist Educator“I have to make sure I don't engage in conversations with people who don't abide by the rules of evidence.” ― Carl Hart
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on May 19, 2017 at 11:51:29 PT

John Stossel
"Give freedom a chance. Dismiss Jeff Sessions. End three-strikes laws. Legalize all drugs."Cruel and Stupid 
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on May 19, 2017 at 09:51:03 PT

This is all so horrible.
Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drug War sure to scroll down to the comments and notice there are recent comments. There are some from Filipinos, defending the killings. They should help your hair stand up easier this morning if that's what you want.(I think my ulcer is back.)Philippine President Attacks Neuroscientist Carl Hart for Speaking Against Drug War and other mean ("Cruel and stupid"?) people are big into dehumanizing people, sometimes just for what they eat, drink, or smoke. Someone or something has successfully dehumanized drug users in the Philippines and there are people here, in our country, that are filled with the same hard and evil spirit that many people in the Philippines obviously are. One of the first signs of one of these severely deluded people is that they like to claim that basically all (real) crime is caused by or somehow related to drugs and drug users.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #5 posted by Hope on May 19, 2017 at 09:19:29 PT

"Plain and simple..."
Cruel and Stupid
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on May 17, 2017 at 20:01:50 PT

I took an hour nap yesterday afternoon and woke up to more breaking news. Now Impeachment is really being talked about. I have MSNBC on from early morning until it's time to switch to Trevor Noah and then Colbert and then I laugh thankfully!
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on May 17, 2017 at 19:58:37 PT

It feels like the movie Ground Hog Day!
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Comment #2 posted by MikeEEEEE on May 17, 2017 at 18:47:33 PT

Just how wrong 
What we are seeing concerning trump is just how wrong he and his loyal cronies are to this country and around the world. He is an embarrassment to say the least. The fighting against his BS will continue, but will his replacement be any better. 
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on May 17, 2017 at 17:26:12 PT

Go Rand Paul!
"an era of near historically low crime rates might be coming to an end."Yes, especially when the "War on Drugs" (i.e. on us citizens/society at large) is re-enacted with renewed stupidity and vigor, blind ignorance to science, common sense and reason!Doing the same thing, over and over, and over again, and over and over... expecting somehow different results, THIS time around...OMG!Peace and blessings to all!
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