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Friday, 19 May 2017 15:01

Jeff Sessions to federal prosecutors: I don’t trust you

Written by  Timothy J. Heaphy

Timothy J. Heaphy was U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia from 2009 to 2014.

Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced policy changes directing federal prosecutors to charge people suspected of crime with the “most serious, readily provable offense” available in every federal case.

In doing so, he promised that prosecutors would be “un-handcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington.”

That justification is laughable. In actuality, the announcement demonstrates a stunning lack of faith in the decisions of line-level prosecutors. It imposes — rather than removes — the handcuffs for prosecutors, returning us to the policy of the 1990s and 2000s, when incarceration and corrections spending spiked without a measurable impact on drug use or public safety.

To understand Sessions’s lack of respect for the prosecutors he supervises, one need only examine the procedural differences between the policy he announced and those it replaced. In 2010, then-Attorney General Eric Holder gave more discretion to federal prosecutors by directing them to consider “the merits of each case, taking into account an individualized assessment of the defendant’s conduct and criminal history and the circumstances relating to the commission of the offense (including the impact of the crime on victims), the needs of the communities we serve, and federal resources and priorities.

Read more at WashingtonPost

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