U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday outlined a new charging policy for U.S. Attorneys. It restricts federal prosecutors’ use of discretion in individual cases and urges them to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.”
Steve Hawkins, president of the Coalition for Public Safety, and Holly Harris, executive director of the U.S. Justice Action Network, commented:
“Research has shown, time and again, that lengthy prison terms for lower-level offenders do not increase public safety. Federal prosecutors have a responsibility to enforce the law firmly, but need the flexibility to do so in ways that will best serve their communities and protect public safety. That’s why we have and continue to support congressional efforts to reform sentencing.
“Dozens of states, including the reddest of states like Texas, Utah, and South Carolina, have shown that discarding rigid one-size-fits-all sentencing policies make communities safer. Between 2010 and 2015, 31 states cut both crime and incarceration, and the 10 states with the largest decreases in their use of prisons saw crime drop more (14%) than those ten states with the largest increases in imprisonment (10%). That is why conservative governors, including Nathan Deal in Georgia, Mary Fallin in Oklahoma, and Matt Bevin in Kentucky, have adopted these smart-on-crime reforms.
“Locking up people who don’t pose a threat to public safety is a waste of taxpayer money and law enforcement resources, and it doesn’t deter crime. The Bureau of Prisons already consumes roughly a quarter of the Justice Department’s budget. Those resources would be better spent on proactive public safety.”