Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mike Lee (R-UT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Rand Paul (R-KY) sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions today, seeking answers about the Department of Justice’s May 10, 2017 memorandum, directing federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious offense possible when prosecuting defendants.
“The Department’s policy is based on the premise that ‘[i]t is of the utmost importance to enforce the law fairly and consistently.’ We agree. The problem is that, in many cases, current law requires nonviolent first-time offenders to receive longer sentences than violent criminals. Sentences of this kind not only ‘undermine respect for our legal system,’ but ruin families and have a corrosive effect on communities.”
The letter asks five specific questions about the Department’s policy change and requests answers to those questions within 30 days.
The full text of the letter can be read here.
Senator Booker has been a vocal critic of the Attorney General’s actions on justice issues broadly and his renewed emphasis on mandatory minimum sentencing specifically. In March, when it was reported that Sessions might be moving to increase the use of mandatory minimums for low-level, nonviolent offenses, Booker led a letter to the Attorney General urging him to change course. He has also criticized Sessions for shifting some Justice Department resources from prevention to prosecution and for his signaled opposition to police consent decrees.
In January, Booker joined Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) in testifying against Session’s nomination to be Attorney General, becoming the first sitting Senator to testify against another Senator during a confirmation hearing.