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GOP's Amash: Sessions's call for tougher sentences ‘unjust’

GOP's Amash: Sessions's call for tougher sentences ‘unjust’
© Greg Nash

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashBiden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' Battle rages over vaccine passports Republicans eye primaries in impeachment vote MORE (R-Mich.) criticized Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGarland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings MORE on Friday for reversing Obama-era guidelines on criminal charges and sentencing.

Sessions instructed federal prosecutors Friday to charge defendants with the most serious crime possible.

"Let's pass criminal justice reform to put an end to this unjust, ineffective, and costly policy," Amash, one of the Trump administration's most vocal GOP critics, wrote on Twitter.

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Sessions released a memo presenting a radical departure from the Obama administration’s approach to criminal charging and sentencing, which called for prosecutors to avoid charges that could trigger heavy mandatory minimum sentences.

“It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,” Sessions wrote. 

“This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency,” Sessions added. “This policy fully utilizes the tools Congress has given us.”

“By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”

The memo marks a drastically different take on drug-related offenses than the one practiced by former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderHolder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ Senate panel dukes it out over voting rights Progressive groups announce M voting rights effort MORE, who issued the 2013 order directing prosecutors to avoid mandatory minimums.

Sessions’s memo marks the Trump administration’s first major rollback of Obama administration criminal justice reforms.

President Trump touted himself as the “law-and-order candidate” during his 2016 campaign.

Trump repeatedly vowed to stifle the drug trade and often derided former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden hits 59 percent approval rating in Pew poll Cuba readies for life without Castro Biden can make history on nuclear arms reductions MORE’s law enforcement policies.

The new guidelines instruct prosecutors to “disclose to the sentencing court all facts that impact the sentencing guidelines or mandatory minimum sentences.”

Holder’s policies directed prosecutors not to disclose the quantity of drugs to courts to avoid strict mandatory minimum sentences.

Holder's guidelines did not apply to defendants who were gang leaders or repeat criminal offenders.