“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for too long for no good law enforcement reason,” Holder said.
The steps announced by Holder will result in greater reliance on state courts and local communities in handling low-level, nonviolent drug crimes and will increase use of drug-treatment programs in the federal system. Holder also announced expansion of the “compassionate release” program for early release of elderly prisoners who have served a substantial majority of their federal sentence.
“We have learned a lot since the widespread enactment of draconian, one-size-fits-all mandatory minimum sentencing laws in the 1980s. A growing number of states have enacted ’smart’ sentencing and corrections laws that place greater reliance on community-based resources, including drug courts, drug treatment, halfway houses and home confinement for low-level drug offenders. These changes have resulted in significant savings to taxpayers while fully protecting public safety,” ABA President Laurel G. Bellows said.
“The level of incarceration and the fiscal and human costs under current federal policies are unsustainable. Already, the growth in the budget for the Federal Bureau of Prisons is crowding out and resulting in the elimination of vital law enforcement programs. These changes outlined by Attorney General Holder today are welcome and much-needed steps toward bringing the federal system into line with smart, evidence-based policy that will better serve taxpayers and public safety.”
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