Post Date: October 4, 2013
(Main Justice op-ed by Mary Price) — Those of us who chafe at the power over sentencing that mandatory minimums cede to prosecutors were nevertheless heartened when Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a speech to the American Bar Association (ABA) in August that he was directing prosecutors to avoid triggering drug mandatory minimum sentences in certain cases.
Holder told his audience that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will do its part to reserve severe mandatory minimum penalties for serious, high-level, and violent drug offenders. Such sentences for nonviolent and lower-level drug offenders, he argued, do little to protect the public or advance the aims of sentencing. Avoiding mandatory minimums, he said, which contribute to bloated prison costs and siphon funding from other DOJ priorities, will help the DOJ use its shrinking criminal justice dollars productively.
Undoubtedly, fewer people will be sentenced to mandatory minimums. Instead, in Holder’s words, they will “be charged with offenses for which the accompanying sentences are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins.” Read more