Since its creation in 2010 Reentry Central has reported on the need for a more just federal sentencing policy. The Reentry Central archives are filled with articles on the consequences that resulted from the failed “War on Drugs” which produced the now discredited policy of mandatory minimum sentences for illegal drug crimes.
Mandatory minimum sentences have cost taxpayers billions of dollars over the past three decades. Originally mandatory minimum sentences were created to keep violent drug kingpins behind bars for a significant amount of time. Somehow non-violent low-level drug offenders got swept up in this harsh policy resulting in a huge spike in over-crowding in federal prisons. In FY2010, federal prison costs rose to $80 billion and today with federal prisons running 40 percent over capacity, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is to announced a new policy that will reduce overcrowding in prison and lessen the burden on taxpayers. In a prepared statement Holder said the Government will be “doing away with some mandatory minimum sentencing policies that have condemned scores of nonviolent offenders to long prison terms and driven up the costs of incarceration.” Additionall, Holder will seek the release of inmates who are elderly or have serious medical issues but are not a threat to society.
It is not clear if those who have been convicted of low-level drug offenses but have not yet been sentenced will be affected by the new change in policy. Already criminal justice reform advocates are calling for the policy to become retroactive.
Click on the link below to read Holder's comments to the American Bar Association.