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New York, NY — Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he has been receiving and acting on recommendations from a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.
The panel, created in February under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump, was asked to provide recommendations by Thursday, July 27. Task Force guidance already prompted changes last week in the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture policy. Based on recent comments by the Attorney General, other major policy changes could cover on marijuana and drug policy, immigration, and sentencing.
However, the administration has not committed to publicly sharing the panel’s preliminary findings. Instead, Sessions revealed today that he will review and implement their recommendations “on a rolling basis,” to counteract a “staggering” rise in violence in some cities.
“The Justice Department should publicly release these recommendations given the significant expected changes in drug, sentencing, and immigration policy,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “Already they’ve led to changes on forfeiture policy that defy widespread consensus on best practices. Many of the Department’s recent policy changes have been solutions in search of a problem, and are only going to make our crime and mass incarceration problems worse.”
“Sessions’ moves so far have mirrored archaic policies of the past, and there’s no reason to believe the task force’s recommendations will be any different,” added Ames Grawert, Counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “Rather than engaging in an open dialogue with reform advocates and the wide array of lawmakers and law enforcement officials who have reached consensus on a better way forward, Sessions is designing and implementing a new drug war from behind closed doors.”
Sessions has already set the stage for drug policy changes, by lobbying Congress to ease restrictions on federal marijuana prosecutions, and meeting with cities that would be affected by a change in marijuana policy. He has also been a vocal supporter of Kate’s Law, which would increase mandatory minimums in some immigration cases, and call for Congress to strip funding from “sanctuary cities.”
For more on the Brennan Center’s analysis of the Administration’s criminal justice actions, see Sen. Jeff Sessions’ Record on Criminal Justice and Criminal Justice in President Trump’s First 100 Days.