Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) are up in arms after Attorney General Jeff Sessions released sentencing guidelines last week indicating his favor of mandatory minimum sentences that were being phased out by the Obama administration.
The two libertarian lawmakers have been long-time advocates for criminal justice reform. They feel that the Trump Administration under Sessions is clearly headed in the wrong direction on this particular policy, which will only serve to clog the prisons further while doing little to prevent crime.
“Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated too many minorities for too long,” Paul said in a press release. “Attorney General Sessions’ new policy will accentuate that injustice. Instead, we should treat our nation’s drug epidemic as a health crisis and less as a ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’ problem.”
Amash concurred with Paul’s statement. He said the following in a Twitter post from May 12, “Let’s pass criminal justice reform to put an end to this unjust, ineffective, and costly policy.”
Despite their objections, Sessions is determined to return to “tough on crime” policies that have cost America billions and left the country with the largest prison population in the entire world. He released a memo last week including a strong endorsement for mandatory minimum policies.
“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. 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.”
This is not the only issue in which the Trump administration has been hostile toward civil liberties. Trump publicly indicated his support for civil asset forfeiture, and Sessions has been a fervent crusader for drug prohibition throughout his political career. Criminal justice reformers expecting common sense reform while either of these men are in charge will likely be disappointed.