In an attempt to remedy our overcrowded federal prison system, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has outlined a drug policy reform that would reduce the number of sentences for lesser drug-related offences. A series of proposed changes, according to Holder, will direct federal resources to more effective methods of rehabilitation and address the issue of overcrowded federal prisons, which are currently operating at 40% above capacity.
Holder will give his speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco today where he will claim that “a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem, rather than alleviate it.”
In his speech, Holder will suggest several federal reforms in what he calls the “Smart On Crime” initiative. These changes include: prosecution of minor drug offences at the state level; early release of elderly inmates serving minor drug sentences; and individualized prison terms determined by a judge as opposed to mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes. Holder says, “By targeting the most serious offenses, prosecuting the most dangerous criminals, directing assistance to crime ‘hot spots’ and pursuing new ways to promote public safety, deterrence, efficiency and fairness, we can become both smarter and tougher on crime.”
These new approaches are both refreshing and productive as we consider the failure of our drug war and its unrealistic tactics in combating drug abuse. It appears that sensible solutions to drug abuse and crime are finally underway as Holder says, “We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate — not merely to convict, warehouse and forget.”
Bailey Rahn, Sr. Editor