Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for reversing Obama-era guidelines on criminal charges and sentencing, saying the move “will accentuate the injustice in our criminal justice system.”
“We should be treating our nation’s drug epidemic for what it is — a public health crisis, not an excuse to send people to prison and turn a mistake into a tragedy. This isn’t about legalizing drugs. It is about making the punishment more fitting and not ruining more lives,” Paul said in a CNN op-ed.
Paul added that mandatory minimum sentences remove the ability to judge cases individually.
“Each case should be judged on its own merits,” he said. “Mandatory minimums prevent this from happening.”
Former Attorney General Eric Holder issued an order in 2013 directing prosecutors not to disclose the quantity of drugs to avoid strict mandatory minimum sentences. The guidelines did not apply to defendants who were gang leaders or repeat criminal offenders.
Sessions’ memo marked a serious change in approach.
“It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,” Sessions wrote. “By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”