In his last months as a senator, Attorney General Jeff Sessions helped to turn back legislation fueled by a groundswell of bipartisan support for criminal justice reform, especially of harsh, ineffective sentences for drug offenders.
Now with his newly minted executive power, he looks to end that momentum for good. In a May 12 order, he wiped away forward-looking reforms advanced under the Obama administration in cases involving nonviolent drug offenders. He directed federal prosecutors to embrace past failures by pursuing the most serious charges they could prove. . . .
Erie County’s Republican congressmen, U.S. Reps. Mike Kelly, R-3rd Dist., and Glenn Thompson, R-5th Dist., did not reflexively back Sessions’ order but responded with welcome nuance and insight that we hope their colleagues share.
Thompson rightly noted that this is a matter that Congress, not the executive branch, should address. “I would prefer a debate in Congress on how to best address issues surrounding sentencing for those convicted of drug trafficking and treatment for those facing drug addiction,” he said.