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Published On: Mon, Aug 12th, 2013

AG Eric Holder announces no more mandatory sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders

Attorney General Eric H. Holder announced Monday that low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no ties to gangs or large-scale drug organizations will no longer be charged with offenses that impose severe mandatory sentences.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

The new Justice Department policy is part of a comprehensive prison reform package that Holder unveiled in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco.

In the speech at the ABA’s 2013 Annual Meeting, Holder said, “As the so-called “war on drugs” enters its fifth decade, we need to ask whether it, and the approaches that comprise it, have been truly effective – and build on the Administration’s efforts, led by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, to usher in a new approach.  And with an outsized, unnecessarily large prison population, we need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter, and rehabilitate – not merely to warehouse and forget.

“Today, a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities.  And many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate these problems, rather than alleviate them.

“It’s clear – as we come together today – that too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason.”

Later in the speech, Holder outlined in more detail:

“This is why I have today mandated a modification of the Justice Department’s charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences.  They now will be charged with offenses for which the accompanying sentences are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins.  By reserving the most severe penalties for serious, high-level, or violent drug traffickers, we can better promote public safety, deterrence, and rehabilitation – while making our expenditures smarter and more productive.  We’ve seen that this approach has bipartisan support in Congress – where a number of leaders, including Senators Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul have introduced what I think is promising legislation aimed at giving federal judges more discretion in applying mandatory minimums to certain drug offenders.  Such legislation will ultimately save our country billions of dollars while keeping us safe.  And the President and I look forward to working with members of both parties to refine and advance these proposals.”

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul made the following statement in anticipation of Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech earlier today:

“I am encouraged that the President and Attorney General agree with me that mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders promote injustice and do not serve public safety. I look forward to working with them to advance my bipartisan legislation, the Justice Safety Valve Act, to permanently restore justice and preserve judicial discretion in federal cases. I introduced this legislation in March with Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy as a legislative fix to the very problem Attorney General Holder discussed today.

“The Administration’s involvement in this bipartisan issue is a welcome development. Now the hard work begins to change the law to permanently address this injustice.”

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Patrick Leahy chairs ‘mandatory minimum’ hearings, Rand Paul is lead witness - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] follows Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision last month not to pursue mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug […]

  2. Are Eric Holder's Announced Criminal Justice Reforms A Step Forward For Medical Marijuana? says:

    […] were floating around prior to the actual speech, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) released the following statement, applauding Holder’s efforts to reform the […]

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