Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose confirmation hearings for attorney general begin tomorrow, “appears to subscribe to outdated ideas about criminal justice policy that conservatives, progressives, and law enforcement have come to agree do not help reduce crime and unnecessarily increase the prison population,” contends the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University in an analysis of his record on criminal justice.
The center says Sessions opposes efforts to reduce unnecessarily long federal prison sentences for nonviolent crimes, despite a consensus for reform within his own party. Last year, he blocked the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act that would have reduced federal mandatory minimum penalties. Drug convictions made up 40 percent of the convictions in the district where Sessions’s served as U.S. Attorney in Alabama, double the rate of other Alabama federal prosecutors. Sessions continues to oppose any attempts to legalize marijuana and any reduction in drug sentences, says the center. It says he could direct federal prosecutors to pursue the harshest penalties possible for even low-level drug offenses, which the center terms “a step backward from Republican-supported efforts to modernize criminal justice policy.”