Attorney General Eric Holder is said to be working on an overhaul of the mandatory minimums prison sentences issued to federal drug offenders. The AG announced a major shift on Monday in federal sentencing policies, targeting the long mandatory sentences. According to the AG, this is what has stagnated the nation’s prisons and filled them with low-level drug offenders.
Listen To AG Holder explain his Smart On Crime Initiative
The AG has instructed federal prosecutors to stop charging many non violent drug defendants with offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences. The AG said that He will start by fundamentally rethinking the notion of mandatory minimum sentences for drug related crimes. He made these announcements when speaking to the American Bar Association in San Francisco on Monday August 12 2013.
AG Holder says that there are currently more than 219,000 Federal inmates; and that the prisons are operating at nearly 40 percent above capacity. AG Holder also said that the prison population has grown by approximately 800 (eight hundred) percent since the 1980′s implementation of the Clinton drug minimum sentencing guidelines.
Mark Maurer who is the executive director of “Prison Sentence” which is a research NGO; says that this change could benefit mostly African Americans and Hispanics.
African Americans account for 30 percent of federal drug convictions each year and Hispanics account for 40 percent.
According to the AG if our state policy makers were to adopt some of these policies, the impact of changes at the state level can be even bigger. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has one national survey that was produced 15 years ago; which says that. The report that the AG commissioned last year confirms that result has not changed.
The Prison Sentence project found that 58 percent of State drug offenders had no history of violence or high level drug dealings. This is why the Federal Attorney Generals offices’ received a three page memo saying that in order to reduce the rising prison cost, it was important that law enforcement agents, prosecutors, prevention and intervention programs; work on reducing expenditures and charging defendants more intelligently. We can Applaud AG Holder if he gets them to follow this policy without federal lawsuits.
In his speech to the ABA, Attorney General Holder said “we need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate — not merely to convict, warehouse and forget.” We can hope that those who received the memo understand how important it is to see this from the viewpoint of those effected most by it.
AG Holder said the new approach which he is calling the “Smart On Crime” initiative is the result of a Justice Department review he launched early this year. Apparently for the sake of consistency, this new review was coupled with the old review from 15 (fifteen) years ago: to enable the AG to compare incarceration changes before he launched this initiative. Hopefully we can see the states fall in line with the federal changes soon.
Praising Holder’s efforts, Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office, said the attorney general “is taking crucial steps to tackle our bloated federal mass incarceration crisis.”
Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, said, “For the past 40 years, the Department of Justice, under both political parties, has promoted mandatory minimum sentencing like a one-way ratchet.”
Former federal appeals court judge Timothy Lewis recalled that he once had to sentence a 19-year-old to 10 years in prison for conspiracy for being in a car where drugs were found. Lewis, a former prosecutor, said the teen, who was African-American, was on course to be the first person in his family to go to college. Instead, Lewis had to send him to prison as the teen turned and screamed for his mother
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No Doubt the PCA and ALEC Will Not Like This
We think you should know a little more about CCA and Why They are a NO Loose Investment – because the population of prisons stay high due to federal regulations. This is why we think there won’t be many folks who will want this new Smart Crime Initiative to succeed
Many including President Obama and Rand Paul have said that the soft on crime approach does not work. They give no alternatives to their exclamations, but still shoot down the changes proposed by AG Holder. We certainly hope that the Attorney General realizes how beneficial this will be to the country; and it’s bottom line. We also think he should invest in a kevlar wardrobe and stop flying in government airplanes; or he might end up like Ron Brown.
People shouldn’t be warehoused for life if there is a way for them to contribute