Justice Department Seeks to Ease Strict Mandatory Drug Crime Sentences

By Joseph Low on August 23, 2013 - Comments off

The U.S. Justice Department intends to move forward with a new policy regarding indictments for low-level drug cases in an effort to reduce the level of overcrowding in the nation’s federal prisons. According to a prepared speech by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the new policy will order prosecutors to not list the quantities of illegal substances in low-level drug cases, effectively bypassing federal laws that require mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related offenses.

In support of the new policy, Mr. Holder argues that the current justice system creates a significant economic burden on the public and an unending cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration that weakens too many communities.

Specifically, the policy will require prosecutors to omit the specific quantity of drugs when drafting an indictment for drug defendants that do not meet the following criteria:

  • The defendant does not have a significant criminal history.
  • Their conduct did not involve violence.
  • They are not leaders of a criminal organization.
  • They have no significant ties to large-scale gangs or cartels.
  • Their conduct did not involve the use of a weapon or sales to minors.

The policy will also increase the use of drug-treatment programs rather than incarceration for non-violent criminals, and reduce sentences for elderly inmates.

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