Taking Stock of Changing Prosecutorial Policies
5 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 2017
In this brief, forthcoming Editors’ Observations for the Federal Sentencing Reporter, we place in context Attorney General Sessions’ May 2017 memorandum recalibrating charging and sentencing policies for the U.S. Department of Justice. Given the pendulum-like movement of federal prosecutorial policies over the past four decades, few should have been too surprised by the shift away from the policies of Attorney General Holder. In the end, what arguably has been most striking and unusual about the issuance of the Sessions Memo is how much attention and criticism it has received from the media and policy advocates even though it substantively represents a return to policies in place throughout much of the modern federal sentencing era. This greater awareness of the role and significance of prosecutorial decision-making is itself something worth celebrating regardless of one’s view of the substantive commitments represented by the Sessions Memo.
Keywords: Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Criminal Sentencing, Discretion, Punishment
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation