Former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, who found herself in the unemployment line earlier this year at the demands of President Donald Trump, lashed out against Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Sunday, criticizing him for his desire to ramp up the war on drugs.
In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, Yates gave Sessions a verbal beat down for his reversal of an Obama-era memo that once allowed federal prosecutors to take it easy on nonviolent drug offenders. The updated policy, which was put into place last month, orders prosecutors to go for the jugular of those busted for drug-related crimes.
Yates, a federal prosecutor under the Obama administration, said Sessions’ theory about violent crime increasing as a result of softer drug sentences is not based on facts.
“Not only are violent crime rates still at historic lows — nearly half of what they were when I became a federal prosecutor in 1989 — but there is also no evidence that the increase in violent crime some cities have experienced is the result of drug offenders not serving enough time in prison,” she wrote.
“In fact, a recent study by the bipartisan U.S. Sentencing Commission found that drug defendants with shorter sentences were actually slightly less likely to commit crimes when released than those sentenced under older, more severe penalties,” she added.
Yates’ piece was written in response to an op-ed penned by Sessions last week, one suggesting that it was necessary to take a “tough” approach to combating drug crimes in order to “make American safe again.”
Sessions has dedicated his political career to combating the illicit drug trade. In fact, he once supported a bill in his home state of Alabama that would have allowed people with more than one conviction for drug trafficking to be put to death.
Since taking over as the nation’s Attorney General, Sessions has continued to inch the nation back to policies that have been tried and have failed.
Yates, who served for nearly 30 years at the Department of Justice, praised the Obama administration’s “Smart on Crime” approach.
“Under Smart on Crime, the Justice Department took a more targeted approach, reserving the harshest of those penalties for the most violent and significant drug traffickers and encouraging prosecutors to use their discretion not to seek mandatory minimum sentences for lower-level, nonviolent offenders,” she wrote.
“While there is always room to debate the most effective approach to criminal justice, that debate should be based on facts, not fear.”