Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Friday blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s stance on criminal justice reform in a Washington Post op-ed titled, “Making America scared again won’t make us safer,” and in response to a Washington Post op-ed written by Sessions last week, in which he argued for a more hardline approach against violent crime and drug offenses.
Yates took aim at Session’s actions in May in which he reinstated mandatory drug sentences that were first imposed during the 1980s, the onset of the War on Drugs.
Yates wrote that Sessions was “stoking fear by claiming that as a result of then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s Smart on Crime policy, the United States is gripped by a rising epidemic of violent crime that can only be cured by putting more drug offenders in jail for more time.”
“That argument just isn’t supported by the facts. Not only are violent crime rates still at historic lows — nearly half of what they were when I became a federal prosecutor in 1989 — but there is also no evidence that the increase in violent crime some cities have experienced is the result of drug offenders not serving enough time in prison,” she continued.
Yates pushed back Friday, arguing that Sessions’s policies are based on “fear,” not facts.
“While there is always room to debate the most effective approach to criminal justice, that debate should be based on facts, not fear. It’s time to move past the campaign-style rhetoric of being ‘tough’ or ‘soft’ on crime. Justice and the safety of our communities depend on it,” she wrote.
Yates was fired by President Trump in January after she ordered the Justice Department to not defend the president’s proposed travel ban on several majority-Muslim countries.