Perhaps associating especially addictive behavior with long, expensive prison sentences would inevitably lead to prison overcrowding, and among developed nations, the United States has a mushroomed over-blown fiasco in this regard. Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder said that low-level, nonviolent drug offenders will no longer be charged with long mandatory minimum sentences. If the offender was just a user, or was otherwise not associated with gangs or cartels, judges now have leeway to punish them with shorter sentences. Before, with the government’s war on drugs, judges lacked such powers to impose shorter sentences. Now, as of this Thursday, Holder has announced that this change in sentencing policy applies to pending drug cases, for those who have not yet been convicted, and also, at the discretion of prosecutors, to defendants who have plead guilty but not yet been sentenced.
“Some federal drug statutes that mandate inflexible sentences — regardless of the individual conduct at issue in a particular case — do not serve public safety when they’re applied indiscriminately,” Holder said.
With the swollen prison sentences, overcrowding, and with bludgeoning operational costs, lawmakers are wising up, in the spirit of sequestration, and finding ways to ease the strain on the system. Imposing drastic sentences on users of addictive substances has not so far proven an effective way to discourage abuse.