Attorney General Eric Holder is planning on changing the Justice Department’s policy on the prosecution of low-level, nonviolent drug offenders to reduce the number of offenders who are hit with mandatory minimum prison sentences. Holder is now saying that drug offenders with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels and no history of violence will not face mandatory sentences, Fox News reported.
Under the new policy, defendants will receive sentences which are "are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins."
Holder believes that mandatory minimum sentences "breed disrespect for the system. When applied indiscriminately, they do not serve public safety. They have had a disabling effect on communities. And they are ultimately counterproductive."
According to the Associated Press, federal prisons are operating at nearly 40 percent above capacity.
“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no good law enforcement reason,” Holder said. He added that incarceration should be used “to punish, deter and rehabilitate, not merely to convict, warehouse and forget. Widespread incarceration at the federal, state and local levels is both ineffective and unsustainable. It imposes a significant economic burden, totaling $80 billion in 2010 alone.”
"Today, a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem rather than alleviate it. By targeting the most serious offenses, prosecuting the most dangerous criminals, directing assistance to crime 'hot spots,' and pursuing new ways to promote public safety, deterrence, efficiency and fairness — we can become both smarter and tougher on crime.”