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Holder Wants Tea Party Senators’ Help to Stop Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentencing

“Our criminal justice system works only when all Americans are treated equally under the law," attorney general says in a message to Congress.

by
Bridget Johnson

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January 23, 2014 - 5:10 pm
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WASHINGTON — Name-dropping a couple of key Tea Party senators, Attorney General Eric Holder today implored Congress to quickly pass reforms that would give the judicial system more power to override mandatory minimum sentences.

“Our criminal justice system works only when all Americans are treated equally under the law,” Holder said in his videotaped message.

“That’s why, in 2010, Congress passed the landmark Fair Sentencing Act, marking the culmination of persistent efforts – with the leadership of President Obama – to reduce unjust disparities in sentencing for similar offenses involving different types of drugs,” he continued. “More recently, President Obama took another step by commuting the sentences of eight individuals who were sentenced under the outdated sentencing regime.” The 2010 law evened out the sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine.

At the Justice Department, Holder said, they’ve used the Smart on Crime initiative “to ensure that individuals accused of certain low-level federal drug crimes no longer face excessive mandatory minimum sentences that are out of proportion with their alleged conduct – and serve no deterrent purpose.”

“These reforms have the potential to help make our criminal justice system not only fairer, but also – by reducing the burden on our overcrowded prison system – more efficient,” he said.

Holder specifically asked Congress to pass “common-sense reforms like the bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act to give judges more discretion in handing down sentences for federal drug crimes and to let some offenders petition judges for sentence reductions.”

The bill promoted by the attorney general was introduced at the beginning of August by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), not a pair seen together on many bills.

The two claim that the sentencing discretion for non-violent drug offenders could save taxpayers billions of dollars in the few years after enactment.

“Our current scheme of mandatory minimum sentences is irrational and wasteful,” Lee said. “By targeting particularly egregious mandatory minimums and returning discretion to federal judges in an incremental manner, the Smarter Sentencing Act takes an important step forward in reducing the financial and human cost of outdated and imprudent sentencing polices.”

“Mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses have played a huge role in the explosion of the U.S. prison population,” Durbin said. “Once seen as a strong deterrent, these mandatory sentences have too often been unfair, fiscally irresponsible and a threat to public safety. Given tight budgets and overcrowded prison cells, judges should be given the authority to conduct an individualized review in sentencing certain drug offenders and not be bound to outdated laws that have proven not to work and cost taxpayers billions.”

Co-sponsors of the bill are Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Over the past three decades, Durbin and Lee noted, the number of inmates in federal prisons has shot up 500 percent with disproportionate impact on minority populations, due in large part to lengthy mandatory sentences for drug crimes.

The Bureau of Prisons is nearly 40 percent over capacity with more than 50 percent overcrowding at maximum security facilities. Nearly half of the more than 219,000 federal inmates are there for drug charges, at a tab of nearly $30,000 per year to house a single prisoner.

Durbin and Lee’s bill, which is in Leahy’s committee, has attracted support as diverse as Heritage Action and the ACLU.

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Top Rated Comments   
"Our justice system works only when all Americans are treated equally", when is Holder planning on following that philosophy. His track record for "equal treatment under the law" leaves a lot to be desired. He sees racism in everything, but than racist do that all the time.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
This slime ball has some gall, invoking the Rule of Law, when he's done more than any other American in recent history to destroy the Rule of Law.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
He should start be seeing that the IRS applies the law equally.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (30)
All Comments   (30)
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Eric Holder’s mother grabbed his ear between her fingers pulling hard, yelling you little liar. Pushing him by his ear up into his room saying your father will correct your bad, bad lying when he gets home.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have little faith in our Justice system any longer when I see the IRS, NSA, F&F criminals like Holder, never finding anyone responsible or in an orange jumpsuit. Our system is a joke and completely corrupt and given over to the "royalty".
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Enforcing the law equally, doesn't that mean that Holder would be charged under many acts that he has violated?????
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
While the idea has some merit, there is no way I am cooperating with the corrupt fascist that is Eric Holder.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Holder wants to change the penalties for abuse of various illegal drugs. Fine, I have no dog in that fight, no horse in that race.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wake up people! Where in the Constitution does the Federal Government get authority to stick their noses into the authority of the State......
Read the Constitution, the Federal Government has control over 10 square miles and that is all..... Each State is a closed and bordered entity and is sovereign. You would think the Rand Paul would understand this issue being the son of the best Libertarian ever.....
Every day that we let t his runaway Federal Government infringe on our Freedom is another day we will have to endure and another day that the Fed will grow stronger and more corrupt.....
Soon we, all of us, will be slaves to bureaucrats in the Federal Government and we sure as hell will deserve it too.......
Wake up America, before we end up in chains.....
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's a ploy. Holder does not need Tea Party help to get anything he wants. He knows that the Tea Party is weak on social liberty. This is just an opportunity to expose and promote that fact. It's the Achilles' heel of the conservative movement and he will push that as far as he can.
This administration is devious. Never forget that.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Holder will eventually decree that no black can be held accountable for anything they do. He recently decreed that zero tolerance rules be elininated because too many blacks are being found guilty of violating the rules.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course...all the 14 to 24 year olds are still suffering the burden of slavery!
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Our justice system works only when all Americans are treated equally", when is Holder planning on following that philosophy. His track record for "equal treatment under the law" leaves a lot to be desired. He sees racism in everything, but than racist do that all the time.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow, Holder takes a brave stand against unfair, unequal treatment under tax laws. Oh no? Nevermind.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm surprised Caesar Augustus Obama hasn't just issued an Executive Order on the subject. After all, the Department of Just Us certainly doesn't depend on the U.S. Code as its guide to law enforcement. Federal Judges don't get impeached for failing to follow Federal sentencing guidelines.

Once again the Obama Racialists are trying to protect their own. After all, who runs the major narcotics operations in the U.S., both importation and distribution? Mainly Blacks and Hispanics. The truth may be harsh, but it is the truth. Deal with it.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Sinaloa Cartel (and others) will be thanking Holder for his cooperation ...
I say we sit this proposal out for a while.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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