How Holder’s Drug-Policy Change Plays Out: Little Impact In One Case


On paper, a Virginia case reported by the Washington Post seems to be one of the first public applications of Attorney General Eric Holder's directive on mandatory minimum sentencing — the centerpiece of a criminal-justice reform plan that aims to save tens of millions of dollars in prison costs by reserving the most severe penalties for high-level or violent offenders and allowing minor drug criminals to reenter society more rapidly. Practically, it is likely to have little impact on the sentence of Marko Bukumirovic, 33.

He pleaded guilty yesterday to a cocaine conspiracy charge that did not specify the quantity he sold. He longer faces the 10-year mandatory minimum: The legal maximum he now faces is 20 years instead of life in prison, As a low-level, first-time offender, Bukumirovic likely would have qualified for the “safety valve” — another mechanism that allows certain offenders to avoid mandatory minimum sentences, his lawyer said. The modified charge, he said, does not affect Bukumirovic's sentencing guidelines at all.

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