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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has begun a full attack on the civil rights of Americans by overturning Former Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr.’s criminal charging and sentencing policy to reduce harsh prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders by directing federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the most serious crimes carrying the utmost severe penalties.
Reflective of the national crime strategy of the 1980s and ’90s, mandatory minimum sentencing will be once again based on drug type and quantity triggering statutory mandatory minimum sentencing. In the past, these same inhumane policies have violated the civil rights of millions. The nation’s prison and jail population more than quadrupled from 500,000 in 1980 to 2.2 million in 2015, filled with mostly Black and Latino men and women strapped with lengthy prison sentences which range from10 or 20 years, sometimes life without parole for a first drug offense.
His approach will destroy families, sending low-level drug offenders, disproportionately minority citizens, to prison with long sentences. Lengthy sentences for low-level, non-violent drug offenses do not promote public safety, deterrence, and rehabilitation.
The exercise of discretion over charging decisions has always been an integral component of the criminal justice system and one of the most important duties of a federal prosecutor to evaluate these factors in an equal and thoughtful reasoned manner.
National Action Network condemns Sessions’ decision to target marginalized/communities of color as morally unjust. This is will lead to grave consequences for American families and is a major blow to progress and democracy in our Nation. We will contact each United States Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General. We will not sit idly by without action to pursue equality and justice for all.