In a new policy shift which will be officially announced Monday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the United States Justice Department will be scaling back the war on drugs, including ending the use of mandatory minimum charges for nonviolent drug offenders.
Attorney General Holder will announce the changes tomorrow at a speech being given to the American Bar Association in San Francisco; Holder will announce that the he is “mandating that drug offenders with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels and no history of violence won’t be charged with offenses that impose mandatory minimums”.
Instead, these individuals will be charged with crimes that “are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins.”
“We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate — not merely to convict, warehouse and forget,” stated the attorney general.
The Justice Department will also be expanding a policy which allows certain nonviolent drug offenders to be released early if they meet “extraordinary or compelling circumstances, and who pose no threat to the public”.
According to Holder, these changes, which he is calling the “Smart On Crime” initiative, are the result of a Justice Department review he launched earlier this year; more changes are expected to come soon.
Although these policy shifts are a far-cry from an end to the war on drugs, they are still a positive step forward.
This announcement comes just days after Attorney General Holder admitted that the drug war has “unintended consequences”, and that “there are too many people in jail for too long”.