Reacting to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s order that federal prosecutors “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” and follow mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, a bipartisan group of prosecutors at the state and local level is expressing concern, the Washington Post reports. Thirty current and former state and local prosecutors issued a letter that was released by a group called Fair and Just Prosecution, a national network working with newly elected prosecutors. The prosecutors say Sessions’s directive “marks an unnecessary and unfortunate return to past ‘tough on crime’ practices” that will do more harm than good in their communities.
“What you’re seeing in this letter is a different wind of change that’s blowing through the criminal justice field,” said Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor and director of Fair and Just Prosecution. Krinsky said that at a local level, some believe “there are costs that flow from prosecuting and sentencing and incarcerating anyone and everyone who crosses the line of the law, and we need to be more selective and smarter in how we promote both the safety and the health of our communities.” The letter says Sessions “has reinvigorated the failed ‘war on drugs,’ which is why groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Cato Institute to Right on Crime have all criticized the newly announced policy.” Signers include Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.