Monday, August 12, 2013

AG Holder to take another step in ending the war on drugs

Back in 2010, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act - reducing the discrepancy between sentencing for crack and powder cocaine. Attorney General Holder then went on to ensure that it was applied retroactively to those already serving disparate sentences.

Then in April this year, the Obama administration launched a Drug Policy for the 21st Century.
While law enforcement will always play a vital role in protecting our communities from drug-related crime and violence, we simply cannot incarcerate our way out of the drug problem. Put simply, an enforcement-centric “war on drugs” approach to drug policy is counterproductive, inefficient, and costly.
Tonight AG Holder will give a speech in which he will announce the end of the use of mandatory minimum prison sentences for low level drug users.
In a major shift in criminal justice policy, the Obama administration will move on Monday to ease overcrowding in federal prisons by ordering prosecutors to omit listing quantities of illegal substances in indictments for low-level drug cases, sidestepping federal laws that impose strict mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related offenses.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., in a speech at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco on Monday, is expected to announce the new policy as one of several steps intended to curb soaring taxpayer spending on prisons and help correct what he regards as unfairness in the justice system, according to his prepared remarks.

Saying that “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no good law enforcement reason,” Mr. Holder is planning to justify his policy push in both moral and economic terms.

“Although incarceration has a role to play in our justice system, widespread incarceration at the federal, state and local levels is both ineffective and unsustainable,” Mr. Holder’s speech says. “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.”

Mr. Holder will also introduce a related set of Justice Department policies that would leave more crimes to state courts to handle, increase the use of drug-treatment programs as alternatives to incarceration, and expand a program of “compassionate release” for “elderly inmates who did not commit violent crimes and have served significant portions of their sentences.”
Please notice that AG Holder has found a way to do this without Congressional action. And so despite our current state of gridlock perpetuated by Republican obstruction, this administration is continuing their efforts to end the war on drugs.


  1. I remember Holder saying he wasn't going to step down because he wasn't finished yet. Now if they could do something about that DEA.


  2. Although many on the left will still consider this "not enough," this is a huge step. And in the right direction.

    I particularly love the part where Holder said that more crimes would be left to the states, because let's face it, without the states' participation in the Drug War, the Feds are hopeless. And more and more states (including red ones) are saying "Enough with the BS." Our nation's drug policy is a complete failure.

    And I agree with Vic78 in that I hope that somebody could do something about the DEA.

  3. this is definitely a positive move in the right direction.

    1. This is very BIG economically for the AA community! I could cry I am so happy for the Mothers, Grammas & Aunts who spend their last dime to visit and send their children boxes & money! The girlfriends denying the children to send something. You cant believe how much increases in postal rates impact this population!

      Wish a calculation could be made of the real cost of incarceration. How many boxes are destroyed because it wasnt packaged right, or book not from publisher, etc. etc.


  4. Have Tavis Smiley & Cornell West sung Holder's praises on this yet? After all, they're looking out for all things black, especially regarding poor folk.