Late last night, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued guidance to all 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices instructing them to pursue more stringent charges in most federal cases, a complete reversal from the policies of the past administration.
One of the most underappreciated, yet consequential ways in which Obama fundamentally transformed America was by promoting a culture of jailbreak at the Department of Justice. The Holder-era DOJ essentially gutted the mandatory minimum statutes from the ’80s that were so effective in bringing down crime levels over the past two decades. Obama also released a record 1,715 people from prison, and contrary to public perception, they were not merely “low-level drug offenders”. Those who wind up in federal prison are bad hombres, to say the least.
Now, Attorney General Sessions has instructed U.S. Attorneys to reverse course and “charge and pursue the most serious and readily provable offense.” One of the big factors in why so many individuals serving time in federal prison were convicted on drug charges is because they pled down from more serious charges, such as armed robbery or even murder, in relation to the drug offense. As the Sessions memo states, “By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”
Once again, this is not some sort of rogue executive action; this is restoring DOJ policy to the letter of the laws passed by Congress. Eric Holder previously used discretion to essentially have prosecutors obfuscate from judges the full scope of evidence and facts of the case that would impact sentencing guidelines. It was a de facto repeal of mandatory minimums. If Congress wants to repeal those sentencing guidelines, that is something legislators can do, but Sessions is determined to follow the law.
This action comes on the heels of the Obama era, when, contrary to talking points promoted by the soft-on-crime lobby, incarceration has been going down and crime has been going up.
Last year, the FBI released new data compiled from over 15,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the country (covering a population of 305 million) showing that the murder rate increased by 11.8 percent from 2014 to 2015. In mid-to-large cities with a population of 500,000-999,000, the murder rate spiked a whopping 20.2 percent in just one year. While crime data has always been a hodgepodge of sketchy and incomplete information, these numbers coincide with other independent analysis. According to the left-leaning Marshall Project, in the nation’s 25 largest cities, the murder rate jumped 14.6 percent in 2015, which is the largest single-year spike since 1960.
And who is hurt most by these policies?
According to the WSJ, “in 2014, 698 more blacks were killed than whites, according to the FBI. In 2015, 1,185 more blacks were killed than whites, according to the data.”
What happened to Black Lives Matter? Attorney General Sessions is doing more for black communities than all of the grievance lobbies and the leniency-grievance complex put together.
At a time when so many departments and agencies are still promoting left-wing policies as if the election never happened, Attorney General Sessions is the bright spot in this administration. From immigration to crime, Sessions is one of the few members of the administration who is actually serious about keeping campaign promises, more so than even the president himself.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.