Monday, August 12, 2013

Closer to Getting it Right on Drugs

Terrific news today for those interested in fairness and justice in connection with the failed War on Drugs in the United States.  Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice will end its ridiculous prosecution of low level, non violent drug offenders as mandated for so long by the skewed sentencing guidelines, that locked up low level offenders for time periods one typically would associate with drug kingpins and cartel bosses.

Holder reasoned:  "'Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason,' Holder told the American Bar Association's House of Delegates in San Francisco.  He questioned some assumptions about the criminal justice system's approach to the 'war on drugs,' saying that excessive incarceration has been an 'ineffective and unsustainable' part of it.  Although he said the United States should not abandon being tough on crime, Holder embraced steps to address 'shameful' racial disparities in sentencing, the budgetary strains of overpopulated prisons and policies for incarceration that punish and rehabilitate, 'not merely to warehouse and forget.'"

From the New York Times:  "In a major shift in criminal justice policy, the Obama administration moved . . . to ease the overcrowding in federal prisons by ordering prosecutors to omit listing quantities of illegal substances in indictments for low-level drug cases, sidestepping federal laws that impose strict mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related offenses."

The Corporate Justice Blog has long reported on the multiple failures associated with the War on Drugs, including the perverse involvement of the private prison industry on the continuing incarceration of American citizens for "no truly good law enforcement reason," but instead to increase profits for executives and shareholders.  The private prison corporation regime has for years lobbied for draconian mandatory minimum sentences in order to increase the length of time that low level prisoners would remain incarcerated.


  1. Great post my friend.

    Unfortunately, with this administration talk is sometimes just talk.

    If Obama agrees with Holder why not simply issue mass pardons?

  2. thanks steve. while i am hopeful that holder's commitment will be real (announcing that federal prosecutor's will no longer even charge low level drug users and dealers with federal crimes that allow for draconian sentences), i agree that too often this administration delivers lip service rather than real action.

    my former colleague at west virginia university law school, caprice roberts, is currently drafting a paper calling upon the obama administration to pardon all currently incarcerated persons that were sentenced under the crack cocaine 100-1 sentencing disparity as a matter of racial justice. i will post about it once the paper is available.

  3. She should send a copy to the White House.

  4. Great post, this is definitely smart choice in the war on drugs.