New York residents may be aware of efforts in recent years to ease overcrowding in federal prisons. This was done in part by limiting the use of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that had the potential to put nonviolent offenders behind bars for many years. However, in a two-page memo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now directed federal prosecutors to seek the most serious charges against defendants.
According to the Justice Department, low-level offenders would not be the target of this new directive unless their crimes involved links to gangs, guns or other aggravated offenses. Instead, 10-year mandatory minimum sentences would be sought against those found to be in possession of a kilogram of heroin, five kilograms of cocaine or 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of sentenced inmates in federal prisons dropped 5 percent from 2009 to 2015.