The New York Times reports that Attorney General Eric Holder has met with Senator Rand Paul and other Republicans to discuss eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. According to The Times, Mr. Paul is backing a sentencing overhaul bill, also supported by Mr. Holder and the Obama administration, that he predicts will pass the Senate with support from up to half of its Republicans.
In 2010, Congress unanimously voted to reduce the 100-to-1 disparity between sentences for crack cocaine offenses and those for powdered cocaine, a vestige of the crack epidemic. Now, the Obama administration and its allies in Congress are pushing to go even further. Mr. Holder wants to make people eligible for early release if they were sentenced under the now-abolished crack guidelines. And he wants judges to have more discretion when sentencing people on nonviolent drug offenses.
For Mr. Holder, addressing sentencing laws is central to a second-term agenda that also includes defending voting rights and same-sex marriage. Black Americans have disproportionately received lengthy prison terms and are extremely overrepresented in the inmate population.
Libertarian-minded Republicans see long prison sentences as an ineffective and expensive way to address crime.
Read the whole article here (The New York Times, March 3, 2014): “Holder and Republicans Unite to Soften Sentencing Laws“