Harsher sentences could result from guidance weighed by US

WASHINGTON (AP) – Justice Department officials have been weighing new guidance that would encourage prosecutors to charge suspects with the most serious offenses they can prove, a reversal of Obama-era policies that aimed to reduce the federal prison population and show more leniency to lower-level drug offenders.

If embraced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, this could result in an increased use of rigid mandatory minimum sentences that critics have called unnecessarily harsh.

The guidance is taking shape in the form of a memo that ultimately will be shared with the nation’s federal prosecutors, but the timeframe for release is unclear. Drafts of the memo have been circulating for weeks and have undergone revisions, so the final language is not yet certain.

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