© Greg Nash
Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulVaccine 'resisters' are a real problem Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Journalist Dave Levinthal discusses 'uptick' in congressional stock trade violations MORE (R-Ky.) knocked Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE on Friday, arguing his order to charge defendants with the most serious crimes would only highlight "injustice" in sentencing rules.
"Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated too many minorities for too long. Attorney General Sessions’ new policy will accentuate that injustice," he said in a statement.
Sessions released a memo on Thursday night that requires prosecutors to disclose "all facts that impact the sentencing guidelines or mandatory minimum sentences."
"It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense," Sessions wrote in the memo. "The most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence including mandatory minimum sentences."
The move is a break from the Obama administration and has sparked anger from Democrats and outside groups.
Paul ripped the memo, saying the Trump administration "should treat our nation’s drug epidemic as a health crisis and less as a ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’ problem," instead of imposing harsher sentences.
Paul and Sessions were on opposite sides of the push to pass criminal justice reform legislation when Sessions was a member of the Senate. Paul was one of 37 senators who supported the Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Act, which would reduce some mandatory minimum sentences.
Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeRetreating economy creates new hurdle for Democrats in 2022 McConnell vows GOP won't help raise debt ceiling in December after Schumer 'tantrum' Senate locks in deal to vote on debt ceiling hike Thursday MORE (R-Utah), who also supported the bill, added on Twitter on Friday that "to be tough on crime we have to be smart on crime. That is why criminal justice reform is a conservative issue."
But the legislation stalled amid division within the GOP caucus. Sessions—who has long advocated for tougher sentencing—was one of the loudest critics of the bill.
Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - House debt vote today; Biden struggles to unite Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike MORE (R-Ark.), who also opposed the legislation, praised Sessions's move on Friday.
“I agree with Attorney General Sessions that law enforcement should side with the victims of crime rather than its perpetrators," he said in a statement. "This policy is simply common sense and will help reduce crime and drugs in our neighborhoods."