Attorney General Eric Holder is calling on the federal government to rein its use of one of the most ubiquitous tools in the war on crime—minimum mandatory sentences—and he’s making a unilateral move to cut down on such sentences in drug cases even as Congress debates a broader retreat from the once-popular sentencing concept, reports Politico. In a speech he is expected to deliver Monday to the American Bar Association in San Francisco, Holder is to say that indiscriminate mandatory minimums “are ultimately counterproductive.”
Holder plans to announce that he’s instructing federal prosecutors not to charge garden-variety drug dealers with crimes that lead to lengthy mandatory minimum sentences. He is also expected to announce that he’s expanding efforts to reduce federal prison populations by releasing elderly prisoners sooner, by allowing local U.S. Attorneys not to prosecute some kinds of cases in federal court and by diverting “low-level offenders” to programs that keep them out of hardcore federal prisons.