It was great to hear the Attorney General announced on Monday that the Justice Department will no longer seek mandatory minimum sentences for certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenses. He noted in a speech before the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates in San Francisco, that the nation “coldly efficient in jailing criminals,” but that it “cannot prosecute or incarcerate” its way to become safer. “Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason,” said Holder.

 

 I am glad Mr. Holder had the courage to publicly question some assumptions about the criminal justice system’s approach to the “war on drugs,” saying that locking up offenders has been an “ineffective and unsustainable” part of it. Those of us in the defense end of the justice system have known this for years.

 Mr. Holder’s plan includes scaling back prosecution for certain drug offenders – specifically those with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels. According to Mr. Holder, these individuals would no longer be charged with offenses that “impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences.”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 trust that there will be a more balanced approach now and that the Justice Department will be able to carry out the changes outlined by Attorney General Holder as expeditiously as possible.  The issue of overcrowding is a very valid problem, but the issue of re-entry into society still needs to be addressed in a meaningful way.  So now offenders will be able to serve less time for offenses that were excessively punished before and that is a good thing.  But when we are as a nation going to truly address re-entry into society for the scores of young men, overwhelmingly black, who are out of prison and can’t find a job, are unable to support their families and find themselves without resources.  More often than not, the only alternative for them is to fall back into their old environment, back to a life of crime as the only option.

 

 

About Martin E. Regan, Jr.

Year after year, Martin E. Regan Jr., the firm’s senior partner, has dedicated tireless efforts on behalf of the accused and produce wins for clients that a less determined advocate would have thought hopeless.  Martin E. Regan Jr.’s ability to tackle and win tough criminal cases has resulted in verdicts of acquittal in many highly publicized trials.