December 2003

Jeffrey Hallam writes “New Policies Herald Stiffer Sentences” for International Law Office


Two recent memoranda-orders from US Attorney General John Ashcroft to all US federal prosecutors represent an effort by the Department of Justice to require the imposition of more severe sentences for federal crimes. The first memorandum, issued in July 2003, is aimed at limiting the ability of the sentencing judge to impose a lesser sentence than is otherwise provided by the US Sentencing  uidelines for the crime of conviction. The second memorandum, issued in September 2003, seeks to limit the discretion of individual federal prosecutors in their charging decisions by obliging them to charge  the most serious, readily provable offence. The policies set forth in these memoranda may have a significant impact on the way that federal crimes are charged, the conduct of plea negotiations and the sentence imposed.