AG Sessions makes fighting violent crime a 'top priority' for DOJ

When Jeff Sessions was sworn in as the new U.S. Attorney General following a particularly contentious series of confirmation hearings, legal experts were somewhat uncertain as to exact course the former Alabama senator would plot for the Justice Department.

While a speech made to state attorneys general in February, which warned of recent increases in unlawful activity, suggested he would be adhering to his tough-on-crime reputation, it was nevertheless unclear as to how exactly this would play out in his new role as the nation's top cop.

Fast forward to a memo to the DOJ's 94 U.S. attorney's offices earlier this month, however, and it's now very clear that Sessions' primary objective while in office will not be looking to continue the work of his predecessor, Loretta Lynch, in reducing the U.S. prison population.

To the contrary, Sessions directed federal prosecutors to make cracking down on violent crime a top priority, exhorting them to work alongside law enforcement officials at all levels and "use every tool" to achieve this objective.     

Specifically, the memo indicated that federal laws addressing everything from firearms and carjacking to robbery and drug offenses were to be used to launch investigations and initiate prosecutions. Indeed, he pointed to the federal Controlled Substances Act as a particularly effective mechanism through which to lower the violent crime rate.

As definitive as the memo was in its targeting of violent crime, it was noticeably silent regarding marijuana, which has been legalized for recreational and/or medicinal purposes in a host of states, including Florida.

It would be premature to suggest, however, that this failure to articulate a position on marijuana means the DOJ won't make combating the drug a priority in the years ahead. In fact, Sessions has long taken a dim view of the drug and has recently spoken against its perceived medicinal value.

What all of this really serves to underscore is that now more than ever those under investigation or facing federal charges for any manner of violent crime need to seriously consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.    

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