CRIMINAL DEFENSE: Fewer Mandatory Minimum Sentences?

As part of a comprehensive prison-reform package, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, announced that he was changing the charging policy of federal prosecutors. The goal is to reduce the number of individuals who must face unreasonably long prison sentences. Under the reforms, federal prosecutors will be directed not to charge low-level, non-violent drug offenders without ties to gangs or large-scale organizations, with offenses that impose severe mandatory sentences. As a result, the more severe penalties will be reserved for serious, high-level or violent drug traffickers.
It has long been recognized that the U.S. prison population is disproportionately poor, African-American and/or Hispanic. General Holder’s reforms affect only federal crimes but he urged states to follow his approach. The reforms will relate to future cases only and will not by themselves, reduce current sentences.

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