On Thursday, United States Attorney General Eric Holder appeared in front of the United States Sentencing Commission to endorse a proposal that would reduce prison sentences for people convicted of dealing drugs.
Back in January, the Commission proposed a plan that would alter federal guidelines to reduce the average sentence for drug dealers from the current sentence of 62 months to 51 months. Attorney General Holder’s testimony on Thursday was in support of said plan.
In addition, with the support of a large percentage of Republicans in the United States Congress, the attorney general is separately striving to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. Holder refers to his proposed initiative as “Smart On Crime”.
“As it stands, and as this commission has recognized, certain types of cases result in too many Americans going to prison for too long, and at times, for no true, good, law enforcement reason,” Attorney General Holder testified. “Although the United States comprises just five percent of the world’s population, we incarcerate almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.”
That’s a sad but true factoid that needs to be rectified post haste.
A November 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that approximately 3,279 prisoners in the United States are serving life without parole sentences for nonviolent drug and property crimes. Nearly four in every five prisoners were convicted of crimes involving drugs.
“This focused reliance on incarceration is not just financially unsustainable – it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate,” Attorney General Holder declared.