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Sentencing Reform Ahead?

Under mandatory minimum sentences, nonviolent, low-level drug offenders can receive the exact same sentences as drug traffickers who are part of a cartel. Because they are mandatory, it does not allow a judge to take the whole context into account in order to provide a fair sentence. Not only have these sentences meant that a multitude of first-time offenders face decades in prison, but nearly half of all the inmates in federal prison are there for drug convictions. In 2010, about two-thirds of people incarcerated in federal prison were serving mandatory minimum sentences. Since the war on drugs started in the 80s, there has been an 800 percent increase in the federal prison population.

In response to this, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. made a much anticipated announcement last month. "Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no truly good law enforcement reason."

He is calling for an end to mandatory minimum sentences, and he has even introduced measures to immediately take care of this issue. He has instructed federal prosecutors to only file federal charges in certain circumstances, which would take mandatory minimums off the table for nonviolent, low-level offenders who are not a threat to society, meaning those who have no affiliation with a gang or cartel, etc. The Attorney General also said he wants to secure a "compassionate release" for older nonviolent inmates with health issues who are near the end of their sentence for a drug offense. For the long term, Holder is calling for new laws to be passed to amend this sentencing, putting the power in a judge's hands to make the right call. The Attorney General also voiced the desire for drug treatment and community service to replace prison sentences for many of these offenders. There actually appears to be legislation that has the backing of both parties.

The chances of sentencing reform seem promising. In fact, one Colorado defendant was able to secure a postponed sentence hearing in the hopes of returning to court after mandatory minimums had been removed. Of course, if you face drug charges right now, all these changes might be coming too late. If you have been charged with a federal drug offense, then you desperately need a strong legal advocate on your side, to help you defend your freedom and your future. To find the Phoenix criminal defense lawyer that you need, contact the Law Offices of Joshua S. Davidson, PLC today! As a former prosecutor, Attorney Davidson thoroughly understands what a winning case looks like from both sides of a trial. Learn what our firm can do for you when you call for your free consultation. We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.