Former acting attorney general Sally Yates is publicly criticizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his hardline stance on drug-related crimes.
In a highly publicized end to her 27-year career with the Justice Department, Yates was fired by President Donald Trump in January. On Friday, Yates published her first tweet “as a private citizen,” in which she linked to an op-ed she penned for the Washington Post.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back the clock to the 1980s, reinstating the harsh, indiscriminate use of mandatory minimum drug sentences,” she writes in the editorial.
The opinion piece was a direct response to one written by Sessions in the Post last week in which he advocated for a “tough” approach to fighting crime and echoed the president’s mantra to “make America safe again.”
Sessions was defending a memo he’d issued in May reminding federal prosecutors that pursuing sentences less than the mandatory minimum requirements would require a supervisor’s approval.
Citing what she called historically low violent crime rates, Yates argues that Sessions’ memo limits the ability of prosecutors to pursue an appropriate sentencing for drug offenses.
In her piece Yates references a 2014 study that found drug defendants with shorter sentences were slightly less likely to commit additional crimes. However, the study notes, “the analysis showed no statistically significant difference in the recidivism rates of the two groups.”
She was quickly praised for her public advocacy by fellow former prosecutor Preet Bharara, who was also fired this year by Trump.