Attorney General Jeff Sessions has slammed a bipartisan drug sentencing reform bill, calling the legislation “a grave error.”
In a Feb. 14 letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, Mr. Sessions wrote that he “strongly” urges the Senate to consider the legislation’s potential ramifications.
“The legislation would reduce sentences for a highly dangerous cohorts of criminals, including repeat dangerous drug traffickers and those who use firearms and would apply retroactively to many dangerous felons, regardless of citizenship or immigration status,” Sessions wrote according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Washington Times.
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017 was introduced in October after similar legislation failed to advance in 2015. At the time five senators opposed the bill because it would provide early release for nearly 7,000 prisoners, including some who were deemed to be career criminals.
Mr. Grassley introduced the bill that has generated support from 11 co-sponsors. The bill would broaden judges’ ability to exercise discretion in sentencing non-violent offenses, narrow the scope mandatory minimum sentences to violent crimes and serious drug offenses, end juvenile life sentences without parole and create a National Criminal Justice Commission that would make additional reform recommendations. It would also allow compassionate release for elderly and terminally ill prisoners.
The American Bar Association and some civil libertarian organizations have come out in support of the bill.
But Mr. Sessions charged the bill risks “putting the very worst criminals back into our communities.” He said that the legislation would result in members of violent drug gangs like MS-13 returning to the streets and clogging up court dockets throughout the country.
“In recent years, convicted drug traffickers and other violent criminals have received significant sentencing breaks from the federal courts and the United States Sentencing Commission,” Mr. Sessions wrote. “Passing this legislation to further reduce sentences for drug traffickers in the midst of the worst drug crisis in our nation’s history would make it more difficult to achieve our goals and have potentially dire consequences.”