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Congressman Bobby Scott

Representing the 3rd District of Virginia

Scott Statement on Attorney General Sessions' Memorandum on Sentencing Policies  

May 12, 2017
Press Release

NEWPORT NEWS, VA –  Today, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ memorandum to all federal prosecutors establishing new policies for charging criminal offenses and seeking sentences when convictions are obtained:

"Today, the Department of Justice announced the issuance of a memorandum from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to all federal prosecutors establishing new policies for charging and sentencing in criminal cases. 

"I am disappointed that Attorney General Sessions has taken the Department of Justice sentencing policies back in time by rescinding the fair-minded charging and sentencing policies instituted by former Attorney General Eric Holder. Attorney General Sessions' memorandum explicitly rescinds policies designed by former Attorney General Holder to 'ensure that our most severe mandatory minimum penalties are reserved for serious, high-level, or violent drug traffickers'.

"Under former Attorney General Holder, the policies implemented at the Department of Justice represented a better approach. This process allowed each case to be reviewed based on its unique circumstances while acknowledging the inequities that result from one-size-fits-all mandatory minimums.  Attorney General Sessions’ new guidance rehashes old discredited policies. Research has found that mandatory minimum sentences fail to reduce crime, waste money, discriminate against minorities and frequently require judges to impose bizarre sentences that violate common sense.

"There is growing bipartisan consensus based on evidence and research that mandatory minimums, in which sentences in drug cases are based on quantity and not culpability, are ineffective, unjust, and waste the taxpayers dollars.  We are suffering from a crisis of over incarceration, which harms public safety and is fiscally unsustainable.  I call on the Attorney General to reinstate the previous guidance which has been shown to be both fair and effective.”

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