Coalition urges U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind DOJ policy, requests dialogue on criminal justice reform
DES MOINES – Attorney General Tom Miller and attorneys general from 13 states plus the District of Columbia Thursday urged US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind harsh new instructions for Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors.
In a DOJ charging and sentencing policy memo issued earlier this month, Sessions directed federal prosecutors to “charge and prove the most serious, readily provable offense,” and also ordered prosecutors to seek mandatory minimum sentences.
In a letter to Sessions, state attorneys general, including Miller, conveyed deep concerns about the major policy change.
“While this policy may seem on the surface to be tough on crime,” the attorneys general wrote, “there is strong data suggesting that it is neither smart on crime nor fair on justice.”
The attorneys general requested to meet with Sessions to discuss what they argue are smarter, data-driven approaches to criminal justice policy that are better for public safety, more fiscally sound, and go beyond simply raising mandatory minimum sentences for low-level offenders.
“There is a strong and bipartisan national consensus that the harsh sentencing practices reflected in the new DOJ policy announced last week, do not increase public safety, and that they run contrary to basic principles of equal justice and sound fiscal policy,” the attorneys general wrote.
In addition to Miller, attorneys general from the following states joined in signing the letter: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, and the District of Columbia.