DALLAS CRIMINAL LAWYERS.: FEDERAL, STATE & APPEALS - BRODEN & MICKELSEN LLP

States Pass Crime Bills at Odds With Attorney General’s Tough Approach

States Pass Crime Bills at Odds With Attorney General’s Tough Approach

New Attorney General Jeff Sessions has hit the ground running on law and order, laying out a tough new crime agenda.

Sessions pledged to oversee the rollback of Obama administration policies with maximum sentences and a tough new approach to drug offenders. However, more than six months into his term, state governments all across the nation are still passing soft-sentencing reforms, reported The Daily Caller.

Even Republican states in the south which are sympathetic to the Trump administration’s agenda on areas like immigration, are continuing to back crime initiatives that are opposed to that of Sessions.

For years, many of these southern States have been backing alternatives to prison to save money on a massively expensive jail building program.

During the Obama administration, both Democrats and Republicans identified considerable common ground on criminal justice reforms.

States that have looked to alternatives to incarceration included Texas under former governor Rick Perry. He recently supported a bill in Texas to allow certain first-time offenders to seal their records.

The Daily Caller reported Sessions is up against several years of legislative momentum and cross party support as he tries to return to an approach that’s tougher on crime.

This year, more states have passed bills intended to cut down on their jail populations.

Louisiana’s Republican controlled House passed a massive criminal justice reform package earlier this year to slash the state’s prison population by 10 percent over the next decade

Meanwhile, Bruce Rauner, the GOP governor of Illinois signed a bail reform measure on June 6 to get more people released from the state’s jails and to prevent people being kept incarcerated due to poverty.

In the state of Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill in June to cut the state’s recidivism rate by matching restitution payments more closely to a prisoner’s ability to pay.

Texas has backed similar legislation to help stop inmates remaining in jail due to poverty.

Sessions announced a “tough-on-crime” order in March. He instructed DOJ prosecutors to pursue the most severe sentencing possible. Some Republican and Democratic senators have joined forces to oppose the order. They are worried it will mean more non-violent drug offenders being imprisoned on mandatory minimum sentences.

 

Four senators wrote a letter to Sessions asking that he change the policy in June. They claimed the Department’s policy is based on the idea that it is of the utmost importance to enforce the law fairly and consistently.

“We agree,” the senators wrote in the letter. “The problem is that, in many cases, current law requires nonviolent first-time offenders to receive longer sentences than violent criminals.”

We have noted how first time, non-violent drug offenders can received harsh sentences in federal courts. This state of affairs is likely to become even worse under the new approach.

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