ATTORNEY GENERAL/CRIME/DRUGS/TRUMP PEOPLE/JEFF SESSIONS: “Louisiana has the nation’s highest incarceration rate. But this week, Gov. John Bel Edwards struck a deal to reduce sentences and the prison population, saving millions annually.
If lawmakers approve the changes, Louisiana will be following more than 30 states, including Georgia, Texas and South Carolina, that have already limited sentences, expanded alternatives to incarceration such as drug treatment, or otherwise reduced the reach and cost of the criminal justice system. Many of those states say they have saved money while crime rates have stayed low.
In Washington, though, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has charted the opposite course. He announced last week that federal prosecutors should aim to put more people in prison for longer periods, adopting the sort of mass-incarceration strategy that helped flood prisons during the war on drugs in the 1980s and 1990s.
His move — which he said would promote consistency and respect for the law — alarmed critics who feared that the Trump administration was embracing failed, even racist, policies.
Even more, Mr. Sessions’s approach conflicted with one of the few major points of bipartisan national agreement over the past decade, that criminal justice could be more effective by becoming less punitive to low-level offenders, treating root causes of crime like drug addiction, and reserving more resources to go after serious, violent criminals.”
-Richard A. Oppel Jr., “States Trim Penalties and Prison Rolls, Even as Sessions Gets Tough,” The New York Times online, May 18, 2017