Kansas defense attorneys worried about Sessions’ directive

Jeff Sessons
FILE - In this March 15, 2017, file photo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to law enforcement officers in Richmond, Va. Sessions favors decades-old drug and crime-fighting strategies, even as some people involved in criminal justice during that time have come to believe they went too far, for too long. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Defense attorneys say they worry that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ directive to pursue the most serious charges and longest sentences possible is likely to thwart recent efforts to address heavy-handed practices by some federal prosecutors in Kansas City, Kansas.

Sessions’ directive impacts federal prosecutions across the nation, but it has raised particular concerns about the Kansas City office where a yearslong struggle has been underway to curb what the defense bar calls prosecutorial abuses.

Sessions says violence in some big cities and the opioid epidemic show a need for a return to tougher tactics. Critics call it a return to failed drug-war policies.

U.S. Attorney Tom Beall’s office issued a statement saying Sessions’ directive gives his office discretion to apply the law to the facts of each case.