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Obama Administration Announces Changes to Federal Drug Sentencing Policies

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Obama Administration Announces Changes to Federal Drug Sentencing Policies

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Federal Drug LawsCiting ineffectual outcomes and overcrowded prisons, Attorney General Eric Holder recently stated that United States prosecutors will no longer list quantities of illegal substances in low-level drug indictments. This will sidestep the mandatory minimum sentencing laws, with the goal of allowing judges to decrease incarceration time for individuals who are accused of drug violations that are not associated with larger criminal enterprises.

Although the effect of this may be limited, as it has no impact on state laws and state prosecutors, it will make federal drug sentences less harsh and sends a signal that the Obama Administration is trying to tighten its focus to the large scale criminals involved in the war on drugs. It also attempts to address the nation’s outsized reliance on incarceration. Though the United States has 5% of the world’s population, it houses 25% of the world’s prisoners.

This a significant shift, but it comes without Congressional approval and therefore may be subject to the changing policy priorities of future presidential administrations.

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