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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

Bio

January 23, 2014 - 5:10 pm
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Companion legislation in the House was introduced at the end of October by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho). It has 15 bipartisan co-sponsors.

“Thanks to the leadership of Senators Durbin and Lee – along with Chairman Patrick Leahy and Senator Rand Paul – it’s clear that these and similar proposals enjoy bipartisan support on Capitol Hill,” Holder said.

“These reforms would advance the goals of the Smart on Crime initiative – and other efforts that are currently underway – by fundamentally improving policies that exacerbate, rather than alleviate, key criminal justice challenges,” he added. “And such legislation could ultimately save our country billions of dollars in prison costs while keeping us safe.”

In September, Paul testified before the Judiciary Committee that arrests under mandatory minimum sentencing laws have been so lopsided “because it is easier to go into urban areas and make arrests than suburban areas.”

“If I told you that one out of three African-American males is forbidden by law from voting, you might think I was talking about Jim Crow 50 years ago,” Paul said. “Yet today, a third of African-American males are still prevented from voting because of the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs has disproportionately affected young black males.”

“…It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that it’s easier to round up, arrest and convict poor kids than it is to convict rich kids.”

Paul said sentencing reform is needed as America’s prison population has quadrupled since mandatory minimums began.

“We are not repealing mandatory minimums on the books – we are merely allowing a judge to sentence below a mandatory minimum if certain requirements are met,” Paul said. “There is an existing safety valve in current law, yet it is very limited. It has a strict five-part test and only about 23 percent of all drug offenders qualified for the safety valve.”

He highlighted one case where a judge had to sentence a 19-year-old to 10 years for conspiracy. “This young man had been in a car where drugs were found,” Paul said. “I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure one of us might have been in a car in our youth where someone might’ve had drugs. Before the arrest, this young man was going to be the first in his family to go to college.”

“Mandatory minimum sentencing has done little to address the very real problem of drug abuse while also doing great damage by destroying so many lives.”

Two weeks ago, Lee pitched the bill in an email to supporters while taking a dig at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for letting such bills fall by the wayside while pushing through the big spending agreements with limited debate or amendments.

“An alliance of tea party enthusiasts and liberal leaders in Congress is pursuing major changes in the country’s mandatory sentencing laws. I have been working with Senator Durbin to build bipartisan support for reforming our country’s mandatory sentencing laws through a proposal we have introduced. Senators Paul, Leahy, Cornyn, Portman, and Whitehouse have also introduced proposals to address this problem,” Lee said.

“Do you think Senator Reid should allow more votes on smaller pieces of legislation like these proposals that enjoy bipartisan support and that are passed through regular order through the committee process, or do you think the country is better served by Congress passing last-minute deals that are thousands of pages long with very little time for public scrutiny?”

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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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.
47 weeks ago
47 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.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
He should start be seeing that the IRS applies the law equally.
47 weeks ago
47 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.
46 weeks ago
46 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".
47 weeks ago
47 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?????
47 weeks ago
47 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.
47 weeks ago
47 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.
47 weeks ago
47 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.....
47 weeks ago
47 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.
47 weeks ago
47 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.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course...all the 14 to 24 year olds are still suffering the burden of slavery!
47 weeks ago
47 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.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow, Holder takes a brave stand against unfair, unequal treatment under tax laws. Oh no? Nevermind.
47 weeks ago
47 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.
47 weeks ago
47 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.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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