Eric Holder, the former attorney general for Obama who designed the lenient policy, is obviously upset that his policy has been undone. Sessions held a news conference on the new policy earlier Friday and Trump has said he chose to fire Comey because the President thought he was doing a bad job and for being a "showboat". "It's dumb on crime", Holder said in a statement.
A Judiciary Committee spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new administration policy or the status of the sentencing overhaul effort.
The US attorney general has ordered federal prosecutors to seek harsher criminal sentencing, undoing an Obama-era policy to ease prison overcrowding. If the defendant fulfilled four requirements (no use of violence, not the organizer, no ties with gangs and, no significant criminal history), defendants should not plea for mandatory minimum sentences.
"In terms of the drug problem, my philosophy was pretty simple: For people who were addicts, that's an illness, and addicts needed treatment beds, and professional drug dealers needed prison beds", Harvey said.
"The Justice Department's expected shift to prosecuting and incarcerating more offenders, including low-level drug offenders, is an ineffective way to protect public safety", Brett Tolman, a U.S. Attorney under President George W. Bush, said in a statement in response to the order.
In addition, a 2014 poll by the Pew Research Center found that the majority of Americans agree with states moving away from mandatory sentences for non-violent offenses. "Sessions is leaving little to no room for prosecutors to use their judgment and determine what criminal charges best fit the crime". They argued prosecutors were getting pickier about the cases they were bringing and were seeking mandatory minimum sentences less often.
The move swiftly drew outrage from progressives.
The AG said his maneuver is simply an attempt to return to a DOJ policy mandated by Congress. "In the name of helping communities, this policy destroyed many of them, including the families that live there".
In Appalachian states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic, the tough-on-crime policy announced Friday by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions runs counter to a recent emphasis on treatment and less prison time for low-level drug offenders.
The policy was also criticized by Sen. The memo rescinds a policy issued by the Obama administration in 2013. "I trust our prosecutors in the field to make good judgements". He added that this "will only perpetuate mass incarceration of poor, Black, and Brown people, the explosion of federal spending on prisons, and the mushrooming of our federal prison population". "It exploded the prison population, didn't help public safety, and cost taxpayers billions in enforcement and incarceration costs".
Sherrilyn Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund president, said Sessions' move will disproportionately impact black Americans.
The pile of sentient Confederate flags that assembles itself inside a suit each morning and answers to the name Jeff Sessions is at it again. In it, the Attorney General also signaled his support for mandatory minimum sentences, which had been a target of the previous Administration.