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The bloated U.S. prison population is now likely to get bigger

If former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and current AG Jeff Sessions met at a party and were searching for the often-termed "ice breaker" topic to establish a bit of common ground, they'd likely cross mandatory minimum sentencing of the list of potential discussion topics -- and fast.

Many of our readers might know from past select blog posts that Holder is not a fan of that sentencing tool, having long argued that it has too often resulted in warehousing first-time nonviolent offenders -- often persons convicted of various and, arguably, low-level drug crimes -- in prison for inordinately long periods of incarceration.

The rationale of individuals and groups in North Carolina and across the country that adhere to Holder's view -- an ever-growing and broad-based coalition -- stresses that mandatory minimums shatter lives, increase criminal recidivism and cost taxpayers a stunningly high amount of money.

It can confidently be said that Sessions is not on board with those arguments. Indeed, last week he sent a memo to the country's 94 U.S. attorneys offices that largely seeks to reverse moves taken during Holder's AG realm to limit mandatory minimums and otherwise reform sentencing rules and outcomes to reduce costs and prison populations.

Sessions' new charging policies, notes one national media report, are expected to "reverse recent declines in the overcrowded federal prison system."

And the AG's move is not likely to be popular with state and federal officials whose complaints concerning criminal justice costs have escalated in recent years. The above-cited news article notes the material "shifts in law enforcement policy" that are now being prominently noted across the country, with beleaguered legislators and administrators already struggling with money woes now facing additional exactions expected to flow from Sessions' action.

Reportedly, the U.S. Department of Justice spends about one-quarter of its entire budget annually on prison-related matters.

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