Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Victory Against Mandatory Minimums

Eric Holder with a big announcement yesterday:
Washington (CNN) -- The Justice Department will no longer pursue mandatory minimum sentences for certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders, Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday, noting the nation is "coldly efficient in jailing criminals," but that it "cannot prosecute or incarcerate" its way to becoming safer.

"Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason," Holder told the American Bar Association's House of Delegates in San Francisco.

He questioned some assumptions about the criminal justice system's approach to the "war on drugs," saying that excessive incarceration has been an "ineffective and unsustainable" part of it.

Although he said the United States should not abandon being tough on crime, Holder embraced steps to address "shameful" racial disparities in sentencing, the budgetary strains of overpopulated prisons and policies for incarceration that punish and rehabilitate, "not merely to warehouse and forget."
The centerpiece of Holder's plan is to scale back prosecution for certain drug offenders -- those with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels. He said they would 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."
This is a huge victory against the drug war and something that is long overdue. The administration deserves a lot of credit for pushing this through.

And with that said, this is a change that was made without congress. Unlike what plenty of liberals have said over the past 5 years, the Executive Branch of the United States government is a extraordinarily powerful position. Plenty of reforms like this are possible. Let's see some more.

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