Criminal justice reformers were alarmed last month when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a return to the policy of seeking harsh, mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. His announcement reversed an Obama-era policy of limiting mandatory minimums for low-level, nonviolent marijuana offenders. That policy had been put in place, in part, in response to several states having legalized marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes. Even more states have legalized marijuana now.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a policy memo last Friday directing U.S. Attorneys to seek the harsh, mandatory minimum sentences available under federal drug laws. Previously, Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder had urged federal prosecutors to avoid the harshest sentences for street-level users and other nonviolent offenders.