Congress should push for drug sentencing reform

2013-08-20T00:00:00Z Congress should push for drug sentencing reform
August 20, 2013 12:00 am

Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced new policies to reduce federal involvement in local drug cases, instructing federal prosecutors to sidestep minimum sentencing laws and encouraging early release of nonviolent drug offenders.

As a result of the failed "War on Drugs," the United States leads the world in prison incarceration rates, yet drug use and drug crime remain rampant. Sending nonviolent offenders to prison ruins lives and wastes resources that could be used for fighting more serious crime, prevention programs or rehabilitation.

When policies and laws don’t work, they need to change. While Holder's comments are a nice gesture, executive orders and selective non-enforcement are the wrong approach. Congress needs to decriminalize nonviolent drug use and eliminate mandatory sentencing laws. Passing the bipartisan "Justice Safety Valve Act" (HR 1695/S619) is a step in the right direction. Please support this legislation.

— Adelbert Bell, Lowell

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