Attorney General Holder Addresses the ABA
In the wake of Attorney General Eric Holder’s call for reducing mandatory sentencing guidelines for minor drug offenders, the ripple outward has already been felt across the country. As part of a sweeping prison reform policy, the Justice Department has directed all 94 U.S. attorneys to develop locally tailored guidelines for when federal charges should be filed in drug crimes. The speech could not have come at better time Considering America’s grossly overcrowded and underfunded prisons, and increased public awareness of the exorbitant costs and ineffectiveness of the war on drugs. America locks more people up than any other country, with private prisons springing up in states across the U.S. The new policies aim to lower prison populations by reducing sentences, finding alternatives for elderly and non-violent criminals, and directing prosecutors to sidestep harsh federal minimum sentencing guidelines.
“Although incarceration has a role to play in our justice system, widespread incarceration at the federal, state and local level is both ineffective and unsustainable,” Holder said, “it imposes a significant economic burden — totaling $80 billion in 2010 alone, and it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate.”
With a clear emphasis on the economic impact of the war on drugs, Holder is hoping to also garner support for a legislative bill that would give federal judges more leniency in sentencing drug offenders. He did not, however address a change of policy towards marijuana which remains classified as a schedule 1 drug.
This angered medical marijuana advocates across the country, as state and federal raids on caregivers, patients, and dispensaries continue to occur.