Attorney General seeks to slash mandatory drug sentences for som - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Attorney General seeks to slash mandatory drug sentences for some drug offenders

(WTVM) -

The nation's top lawyer announced major changes in the way some drug offenders are sentenced.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Departments plan to no longer pursue mandatory minimum sentences for quote, "certain low-level, non-violent drug offenders."

"By targeting the most serious offenses, prosecuting the most dangerous criminals, directing assistance to crime "hot spots," and pursuing new ways to promote public safety, deterrence, efficiency, and fairness - we in the federal government can become both smarter and tougher on crime," Holder said.

This applies to drug offenders with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels.

"I see it could have a positive effect on overcrowding," Muscogee County Jail Warden Dane Collins said.

The cost of incarcerating a person is an issue every jurisdiction around the country has to deal with, Collins reported.

"We have about 1,160 inmates currently as we're speaking. So we're about 100 over what our rated capacity is," said Collins.

It cost the city $50 a day per inmate at the Muscogee County Jail; that's $350 a week and $1,400 a month; multiple that by 1,100 inmates, we're talking taxpayers writing a check for $1,540,000 a month.

Holder said due to widespread incarceration, the economic burden reached $80 billion in 2010.

"They now will be charged with offenses in which the accompanying sentence is better suited to their individual conduct rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins," said Holder.

Holder said he hopes the changes will also address racial disparities in the U.S prison population, of which ethnic minorities are a majority.

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