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Former AG Eric Holder Scorches Jeff Session New Policy: Not Tough on Crime, ‘Dumb on Crime’

After a memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that would require federal prosecutors to pursue harsh sentencing, former Attorney General Eric Holder lashed out in response.

“The policy is not tough on crime. It is dumb on crime,” Holder said in a statement. “It is an ideologically motivated, cookie-cutter approach that has only been proven to generate unfairly long sentences that are often applied indiscriminately and do little to achieve long-term public safety.”

The new guidance from Attorney General Sessions would rescind the Holder-era “Smart on Crime” that prioritized harshly prosecuting violent crime over non-violent drug offenses . The new memo from Sessions argues that allowing for discretion and not evenly applying a standard for pursuing certain sentences is unfair.

Holder’s statement also defends his “Smart on Crime” program, citing Justice Department data as proof:

The Justice Department’s own data revealed just last year that, since I implemented Smart on Crime policies in 2013, prosecutors have used the discretion I gave them to focus on more serious drug cases. The data showed that while they brought fewer indictments carrying a mandatory minimum sentence, the prosecutions of high-level drug defendants had risen and that cooperation and plea rates remained effectively the same.

“This absurd reversal is driven by voices who have not only been discredited but until now have been relegated to the fringes of the debate,” writes Holder at the conclusion of his statement. “Congress can reverse these actions by enacting the criminal justice reform measures that were being considered as late as last year and that had the support of Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and progressives.”

After serving six years as attorney general in former President Barack Obama’s administration, Holder returned to private legal practice. Holder currently works at the law firm of Convington & Burning LLP where he “advises clients on complex investigations and litigation matters, including those that are international in scope and involve significant regulatory enforcement issues and substantial reputational concerns.”

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