Tag Archive: Prosecutorial Discretion

Lawmakers reveal bipartisan effort to reduce harsh drug sentences

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed all federal prosecutors to return to the old ways. Instead of taking steps to limit long prison sentences for nonviolent, low-level drug offenders, he ordered U.S. Attorneys nationwide to seek the sentence set out in the federal sentencing guidelines, no matter how harsh. "By definition," he opined in his policy memo, "the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory-minimum sentences." In other words, if the sentence for a nonviolent, street-level marijuana user’s sentence is harsh, it’s because Congress wants it that way. But there’s plenty of evidence that Congress doesn’t want the extreme drug sentences we’ve been seeing — drug sentences that break up families, devastate... Read More »

Source: Feds are about to begin filing the most serious charges

Traditionally, prosecutors have had the authority to determine which among the various possible criminal charges to file in a given situation. They can also choose not to file any charges at all, even when there is a provable case. This concept is called prosecutorial discretion. That said, U.S. Attorneys and their staffs of federal prosecutors serve at the pleasure of the Attorney General, who directs the overall policy direction taken by anyone representing the Department of Justice. During the Obama Administration, for example, Attorney General Eric Holder urged federal prosecutors to avoid taking on low-level marijuana crimes, especially in states that had legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Marijuana possession cases, he reasoned, are better handled by state and... Read More »