Saturday, May 13, 2017

Statement from Assembly Member and DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake on the Release of Prosecuting Guidelines by Attorney General Jeff Sessions

   In response to the firing of FBI Director Comey, New York State Assembly Member and DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake released the following statement:

“The Attorney General’s to reverse the Department of Justice's policy on criminal charging is a devastating blow to criminal justice reform efforts happening all around the country. This is a step in the wrong direction and will result in more people being put in jail for minor offenses, especially from communities of color.

While the words of race, gender and class may not readily appear in the memo's intent, it is obvious to any objective person that these actions will knowingly hurt communities of color and residents from already challenged neighborhoods. Racial biases in policing, charging and sentencing contribute to the fact that more than 60% of the US prison population consists of people of color. Instead of locking up more people of color, we should be opening up doors of opportunity with reasonable judgment and second chances.

This memo removes the discretion given to federal prosecutors to charge based on the unique circumstances of each case and take into the account the biases that exist within our criminal justice system. It is a so-called “tough on crime” approach to seeking justice that results in unnecessarily long sentences and does little to enhance public safety. These antiquated policies have decimated poor communities and placed an undue burden on our prison system, forcing the Justice Department to spend one-third of its budget on incarceration instead of working to prevent, detect, or investigate serious crimes.

This inhumane decision is another reminder why progress in state houses is so critical in providing hope to those seeking justice across the country. I strongly urge Congress to listen to the bipartisan call to action and enact criminal justice reform policies that address the root of the issues; focusing on prevention, rehabilitation, and over-policing. The American people demand a criminal justice system that aligns with modern-day realities and accounts for the socioeconomic disparities in our society.”

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