US prosecutors told to push for more, harsher punishments

WASHINGTON (AP) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is telling the nation’s federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against most suspects. That is sure to send more people to prison and for much longer terms by triggering mandatory minimum sentences.

Sessions announced the move in a policy memo sent to U.S. attorneys. It’s long been expected from the former prosecutor who has made fighting violent crime the Justice Department’s priority.

The change undoes Obama administration policies aimed at easing prison overcrowding and showing leniency for lower-level drug offenders.

Critics of the shift say it will revive the worst aspects of the drug war. But Sessions has said a spike in violence in some big cities shows the need for a return to tougher tactics.

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