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Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Criminal Justice Reforms

In a speech Monday, Holder directed prosecutors to avoid seeking mandatory minimums for low-level drug offenses with the aim of decreasing prison population levels.

August 12, 2013

In a speech given Monday at the American Bar Association in San Francisco, Attorney General Eric Holder made a major announcement of new directives aimed at decreasing prison population levels. The proposed policy changes direct prosecutors to avoid seeking mandatory minimums for low-level drug offenses, an initiative supported by the Brennan Center as a way to help end mass incarceration in our prison system.

“For too long, our justice system has maintained a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Inimai Chettiar, Director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center. "Mass incarceration policies are not just a drain on fiscal costs; they also impede economic growth and take a massive societal toll on the country. Providing alternatives to prison will help create a more rational and fair justice system while improving public safety and the health of the nation.”

“The Justice Department is leading by example to end over-criminalization,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, Director of the Brennan Center’s Washington D.C. Office. “These directives should empower local and federal legislators to rethink ‘tough on crime’ laws as the only option available to protect communities.”

To see the Attorney General’s speech in its entirety, click here.