Eric Holder Just Took A Huge Step To Help Prisoners Of America's Drug War
The Commission overwhelmingly approved an amendment in April to reduce the federal drug sentences for people convicted of drug trafficking crimes after November 1, 2014. But Holder said Tuesday that the Justice Department wants this deal to apply retroactively to drug convicts who weren't violent or convicted of weapon possession.
By making the amendment retroactive, prisoners whose sentences were "needlessly inflated" will get the same treatment as those sentenced after Nov. 1,
Mary Price, general counsel for
Families Against Mandatory Minimums
, told Business Insider.
Holder's announcement is part of his
effort to reform draconian drug laws
enacted in response to the crack epidemic of the 1980s. These laws include mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, which have forced federal judges to mete out harsh sentences for drug crimes regardless of mitigating factors like poverty or drug addiction.
The lengths of federal drug sentences are organized according to various levels, determined by the quantity of drugs found on the convicted individual, according to FAMM. The amendment will reduce federal drug sentences by two levels for eligible people who submit a petition, thus shortening the length of their sentences.
Of more than 215,000 inmates in the federal prison system, 20,000 would be eligible for reduced sentences according to the proposal Holder is supporting, USA Today reports .