Holder goes after mandatory federal drug sentences

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder announced a major shift today in federal sentencing policies, targeting long mandatory terms that he said have flooded the nation's prisons with low-level drug offenders and diverted crime-fighting dollars that could be far better spent.

If Holder's policies are implemented aggressively, they could mark one of the most-significant changes in the way the federal criminal justice system handles drug cases since the government declared a war on drugs in the 1980s

As a first step, Holder has instructed federal prosecutors to stop charging many nonviolent drug defendants with offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences. His next step will be working with a bipartisan group in Congress to give judges greater discretion in sentencing.

"We will start by fundamentally rethinking the notion of mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes," Holder told the American Bar Association in San Francisco.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.