Obama Administration Pledges to Reduce Mandatory Drug Crime Sentences
Published on 09/13/2013 -
By John Clark
This week, the Obama Administration announced its intentions to reduce mandatory drug crime sentences for nonviolent offenders, according to a report from Reuters.
The announcement comes in the wake of vocal criticism from many legislators who question the cost and expense of America’s massive prison population.
If the administration indeed asks prosecutors to reduce mandatory sentences, the country could save billions of dollars, sources say.
Attorney General Unveils Plan to Change Drug laws
In a press conference this week, Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged that many nonviolent offenders are given unfairly lengthy sentences for their crimes.
“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason,” said Holder, the top law enforcement official in the United States, during a speech in San Francisco.
But instead of proposing concrete changes to criminal drug laws, Holder and the rest of the Obama Administration is simply asking federal prosecutors to refrain from asking judges for maximum sentences in some cases.
According to sources, the Justice Department plans to direct its prosecutors across the country to charge certain nonviolent drug offenders in a way that would prevent the criminals from being sentences to maximum terms.
Specifically, the Justice Department is looking for prosecutors to refrain from posting the amount of drugs involved in criminal transactions with defendants who do not have lengthy criminal histories, according to reports.
President Obama Looks to Amend Criminal Drug Laws
In addition to the new guidelines for federal prosecutors, the Justice Department is also looking to give federal judges the ability to voluntarily waive mandatory minimum sentences.
This, however, would require congressional approval, which has been difficult for the Obama Administration to secure.
But the prolonged incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders has helped America become the world’s most punitive country, as a higher percentage of Americans are behind bars than the citizens of any other country, sources say.
America’s prison population has steadily increased since the 1980s, when Congress launched the “war on drugs” and raised mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related offenses.
Today, federal prisons are 40 percent above capacity, and almost half of all inmates are in prison due to drug-related charges, sources report.
And as the war on drugs continues to place more nonviolent Americans in prison, Attorney General Eric Holder thinks “we need to ask whether it, and the approaches that comprise it, have been truly effective.”
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