Building on his announcement last month that federal prosecutors would no longer charge some low-level drug offenders with offenses that carry harsh mandatory minimum sentences, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that this policy would also be applied retroactively to some defendants whose cases are still pending.
Over the last several decades, the U.S. prison population has grown exponentially, particularly at the federal level. But it’s not just the the rate of incarceration that is outsized in the United States. It is also the duration of the sentences.
In the latest mark of a conservative turn-around on the “tough-on-crime” policies that were once synonymous with those on the political right, three of the four witnesses at a Senate hearing Wednesday vehemently supported reform to mandatory minimum sentences.
Ten months after Californians passed a ballot initiative to end a harsh sentencing scheme that imposed life sentences for offenses as minor as stealing socks, those released early have overwhelmingly stayed out of trouble, dispelling warnings that reform would lead to a spike in crime.