Attorney General John Ashcroft, warning that a Supreme Court decision could lead to more lenient treatment of violent offenders, urged Congress to enact tougher federal sentencing guidelines, the Los Angeles Times reports. Ashcroft, who will leave office once Alberto Gonzalez is approved by the Senate – probably tomorrow – said his greatest professional regret was not adequately explaining the USA Patriot Act to the public.
At the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Ashcroft called last month’s Supreme Court ruling on federal sentencing guidelines “a retreat from justice that may put the public’s safety in jeopardy.” The high court said that judges, many of whom have bemoaned the guidelines, should have more discretion with punishments. Ashcroft disagreed. He said that “in all, 35 million Americans have been spared the pain of violent crime in the past decade – in no small part because the criminals who would have victimized them were serving tough sentences.”