Rand Paul: Sessions's sentencing plan would ruin lives

Rand Paul: Sessions's sentencing plan would ruin lives
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP senators call for probe of federal grants on climate change Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Key ObamaCare groups in limbo | Opioids sending thousands of kids into foster care | House passes bill allowing Medicaid to pay for opioid treatments US watchdog: 'We failed' to stem Afghan opium production MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday criticized Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions'Occupy ICE' protests emerge across the country Prosecutor warned border authorities office is ‘diverting’ DOJ resources from other cases: report There's room in America for domestic violence victims MORE for reversing Obama-era guidelines on criminal charges and sentencing, saying the move "will accentuate the injustice in our criminal justice system."

Sessions instructed federal prosecutors in a memo last week to charge defendants with the most serious crime possible, breaking from the Obama administration’s approach.

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“We should be treating our nation’s drug epidemic for what it is — a public health crisis, not an excuse to send people to prison and turn a mistake into a tragedy. This isn’t about legalizing drugs. It is about making the punishment more fitting and not ruining more lives," Paul said in a CNN op-ed.


Paul added that mandatory minimum sentences remove the ability to judge cases individually.

“Each case should be judged on its own merits,” he said. “Mandatory minimums prevent this from happening.”

Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThe American experience is incomplete without its neighbor – The argument for Americanism Eric Holder: Trump administration has 'brought shame to the nation’ with family separations US law is not on the side of Mueller's appointment as special counsel MORE issued an order in 2013 instructing prosecutors to avoid mandatory minimums while prosecuting drug-related offenses.  

Holder’s policies directed prosecutors not to disclose the quantity of drugs to avoid strict mandatory minimum sentences. The guidelines did not apply to defendants who were gang leaders or repeat criminal offenders.

Sessions's memo marked a serious change in approach.

“It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,” Sessions wrote. "By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”