Attorney General Eric Holder Calls for Reduced Sentences

In a bit of under-reported news, Attorney General Eric Holder has called for reduced sentencing guidelines for federal judges for drug offenses while preserving harsh punishment for violent offenders.

“Certain types of cases result in too many Americans going to prison for far too long, and at times for no truly good public safety reason,” Holder told the U.S. Sentencing Commission. “Although the United States comprises just five percent of the world’s population, we incarcerate almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.” [...]

“By reserving the most severe penalties for dangerous and violent drug traffickers, we can better protect public safety, deterrence and rehabilitation while saving billions of dollars and strengthening communities,” Holder said Thursday.

The new guidelines proposed by Holder will affect up to 70 percent of drug offenders according to the Justice Department. The guidelines are expect to be approved by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Not to diminish the importance of this move — and it is extremely important — I believe it’s an even bigger imperative to restore the voting rights of felons convicted of non-violent drug offenses. Unfortunately that’s far more complicated.

With that said, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration haven’t merely talked about tackling the program of overcrowded prisons or the Prison Industrial Complex, they’re actually doing something about it. In several cases across the South, the Department of Justice is intervening and prosecuting those responsible for engineering explicit school-to-prison pipelines. This is justice.

In previous times this would be unthinkable.

(h/t Attorney Kush Arora)
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  • Robert Scalzi

    This is welcome news – On the voting rights restoration issue I believe that as soon as you are out of prison and not longer on parole, regardless of what your crime was, you should be able to vote anywhere you live in the US, unless it was a voting issue -fraud or suppression. You have paid your price for whatever your offense was and should be treated accordingly – that is currently the case here in CA and we are better for it – this approach needs to be adopted and made the law nationally in my opinion.

    • muselet

      I wholeheartedly agree.

      –alopecia

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      I agree BUT have one caveat. If someone was convicted of murder, they took everything away from that person. That person will never get to vote again. It think it is fair to say if someone is convicted of murder, even after they’ve served their sentence, they cannot have the right to vote back.

      What do you all think?

      • Christopher Foxx

        I lean toward the “You’ve paid the penalty, now you’re free to go” view. Once a person is out of jail, we should largely let them get on with their lives. Letting them vote, and thereby have a stake in society, is a good thing. Continuing to tell them their opinion doesn’t matter reinforces a feeling of being an outsider with no obligation to others.