U.S. Attorney General Holder on sentencing changes

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Monday, August 12, 2013 - 4:15pm

U.S. prisons are over crowded. Some 219,000 in federal prisons, alone. Their incarceration costs you money, in the taxes you pay. How can federal and state governments shrink overcrowding  and save money?

At the American Bar Association in San Francisco, Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder unveiled a key proposal to scale back mandatory minimum sentences for certain prisoners.

Eric Holder, Attorney General, "I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department's charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose Draconian mandatory minimum sentences."

Holder calls the approach getting "smart on crime", "They now will be charged with offenses for which the accompanying sentences are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins. We cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation."

Holder says his proposal would ease prison overcrowding and cut billions from the more than $80 billion the United States spent in 2010 alone to incarcerate convicted criminals

Republicans and Democratic Senators have endorsed similar ideas.

Conservatives especially like the potential for reducing governments size and cost.

The administration also hopes it will address racial disparities in prisons.

Something President Obama addressed after the George Zimmerman verdict

President Obama, "The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws -- everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws."

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