MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited Memphis while discussing a plan to cut back on crime.
Sessions is directing federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against the vast majority of suspects, a reversal of Obama-era policies that is sure to send more people to prison and for much longer terms.
Sessions said his directive is a "key part of President Trump's promise to keep America safe."
However, some local leaders agree tougher sentencing is not the way to reduce crime.
Sessions on Friday explained his new memo to prosecutors, saying a tougher approach is necessary for public safety. He cited the country's opioid addiction and rising violent crime rates in "Baltimore, Chicago, Memphis, and Milwaukee."
Sessions said drugs and violence go hand-in-hand. His memo tells prosecutors to charge steeper crimes that would trigger long, mandatory minimum prison sentences.
Memphis City Councilman Berlin Boyd said Sessions plan to reduce crime is misguided.
"I find it quite insulting for him to categorize Memphis with some of the larger cities like Chicago," Boyd said.
Boyd said throwing the book at people charged with drug offenses is not the solution to violent crime.
"Just saying we are going to incarcerate you doesn't fix the problem it actually increases the problem," Boyd said.
Boyd said it's important to find alternatives, and ways to help people rehabilitate so they can productively re-enter society.
U.S. Attorney Laurence Laurenzi sent out the following statement supporting Sessions' policy change:
Congressman Steve Cohen disagrees. He released the following statement criticizing Sessions' policy change: