I agree with Eric Holder, the Attorney General of these United States of America: His gang at the federal Department of Justice should stop unfairly locking people up.
At the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco, Mr. Holder admitted that, “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason.”
Specifically, the AG argued for “fundamentally rethinking the notion of mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes,” acknowledging “they oftentimes generate unfairly long sentences,” which breeds “disrespect for the system.”
Unfair long jaunts in prison do tend to ruin people’s lives — er . . . unfairly. Bad system.
Holder also pointed to the enormous cost of incarceration: $80 billion annually. Since 1980, our population has grown about 33 percent and our prison population 800 percent.
So, to hand out fewer of the “excessive prison terms” the DOJ has been meting out for decades, Holder is changing Department of Justice policies for charging “low-level” and “non-violent” suspected drug offenders – so they don’t face mandatory minimum sentences.
Like me, the ACLU is “thrilled.” But while calling Holder’s policy pivot “a great step,” Julie Stewart, the president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, added, “what’s being proposed here is very modest.”
A federal public defender in Virginia points out that prosecutors are likely to continue using mandatory minimums as a weapon, saying, “There is a real difference between general guidance from the attorney general and actually taking actions on the ground.”
The Department of “Justice” is locking people up “unnecessarily.” Attorney General Holder speaks out against it, but it is his job to actually stop it. Now.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.