Rand Paul: Sessions's sentencing plan would ruin lives

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

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulSenate healthcare bill appears headed for failure Talk of Trump pardons reverberates on Sunday shows Paul says president likely has authority to pardon himself MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday criticized Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump takes to Twitter to criticize media Dem senator: Administration crackdown on marijuana is ‘backward and inhumane’ Trump's DOJ gears up for crackdown on marijuana 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 H. HolderHolder defends Mueller: 'No basis to question the integrity of Mueller' Kamala Harris slams Sessions on criminal justice Deputy AG backs Sessions' tough on crime policy 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.”