Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. plans to propose comprehensive prison system reforms today, including scaled back prosecutions for non-violent drug offenders and increased flexibility for judges on mandatory minimum sentences, according to news organizations that got early copies of the remarks.
Holder plans to use an appearance at the American Bar Association meeting in San Francisco to announce the changes, some of which he can make himself and some of which would need Congressional action.
For instance, Holder has directed U.S. attorneys to no longer charge non-violent drug offenders with no ties to gangs or large-scale drug operations with crimes that carry the most severe mandatory sentences, the Washington Post reports.
"Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no good law enforcement reason," Holder plans to say. "We cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation."
Holder also is supporting legislation to give federal judges the ability to impose prison sentences shorter than the mandatory minimums they're required to impose, an option long requested by defense attorneys and judges who feel restricted by sentencing laws.
Holder is scheduled to deliver the speech at 1 p.m. Eastern time. For more coverage, check NLJ.com.