Congressman Keith Ellison

Representing the 5th District of Minnesota

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Rep. Ellison Statement on Harmful Department of Justice Sentencing Policies

May 12, 2017
Press Release
 Washington, DC – Rep. Keith Ellison released the following statement after Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo detailing new Department of Justice sentencing policies:
 
"Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to ‘charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense’ — a return to the bad old days of exploding incarceration, extreme racial disparities, and increasing profitability of the private prison industry.
 
"Our society has had many years to assess the impact of mandatory minimums and harsh sentencing, and the verdict is in. Harsh sentencing practices have not made our society safer nor sentencing fairer. Sessions’ memorandum is a return to the failed policies of the War on Drugs. It is bad for our communities, and utterly destructive for low-level, non-violent drug offenders. The only people who benefit from these laws are those who have a financial stake in imprisonment: the private prison industry and vendors to the public system. 
 
“Prison sentencing should be about justice and rehabilitation – not retribution. Mandatory minimum sentencing takes judgment out of the hands of judges and juries, leads to higher rates of recidivism, and singles out low-income, non-violent offenders. The President and the Attorney General can go to bat for private prison lobbyists pushing the status quo or the families in desperate need of criminal justice reform; not both. Clearly they’ve chosen their side.”