What does AG Jeff Sessions' sentencing memo mean for California?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' memo calling on federal prosecutors to pursue the "most serious" offenses could roll back criminal justice reform.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' memo calling on federal prosecutors to pursue the "most serious" offenses could roll back criminal justice reform. 

Ana Zamora, criminal justice policy director at the ACLU of Northern California, said while this may be a directive to federal prosecutors, policies are implemented and enforced locally through elected district attorneys. 

"Crime is down, he’s really reversing progress in a significant way," Zamora said. 

And that reversal could disproportionately affect African-Americans, according to University of California, Davis law professor Gabriel "Jack" Chin.

"More offenders and arrestees were white, but more people who wind up being sentenced to prison are African-American, so there's been this racial skew in the outcomes of the criminal justice process," Chin said. "And that's diminished in recent years, because of things like the policies that are now reversed."

According to Chin, prosecutors and judges have made efforts in the last decade or so to not intentionally or inadvertently discriminate based on race. 

So what now?

"This, it seems to me, could be a step in the other direction, but I can't be sure of that, we shall see," he said. 

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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