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Monday, March 10, 2014

Republicans Oppose Minimum Sentences for Drug Offenders

Português: Uma cela moderna em Brecksville Pol...
In the United States, mandatory minimum sentencing laws for a drug related non-violent offense have proven to be expensive and ineffective, according to the New York Times. Severely overpopulated prisons and high recidivism rates have shown that mandatory minimum sentences hurt society more than help, forcing lawmakers to reevaluate the treatment of drug offenders.

In August, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder brought to light a plan by the Justice Department to alter prosecution methods of non-violent drug offenders. In December, President Obama commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates, six of which were doing life sentences for possession of crack cocaine. Drug offenders, deemed to be non-violent, who are not in any way affiliated with gangs, would no longer be looking at minimum sentences.

Holder will provide federal prosecutors guidelines for drafting criminal complaints when dealing with non-violent, low-level, unaffiliated drug offenders. This will create a safeguard against triggering mandatory minimum sentences throughout the legal system.

Now, libertarian Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and others are joining with Holder in opposing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, according to the article. Libertarian Republicans who are against long prison sentences are behind a sentencing overhaul bill in the Senate. The House is also considering similar legislation that would take a more enlightened approach to fair sentencing.

Actions like these are steps in the right direction when it comes to reducing prison overpopulation. Ridding the system of mandatory minimum sentences will give judges and prosecutors the freedom to offer drug and alcohol treatment as opposed to jail, a sentence that has proven to be more useful in saving lives and reducing recidivism.
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