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Tag: mandatory minimum sentencing

DEA Head Fights Against Obama Administration Efforts to Reduce Minimum Sentences for Drug Offenders

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In her latest defiance of the Obama administration, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart is unwilling to support a bill to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug crimes, the Huffington Post reports.

Leonhart has departed with the administration on reforms to drug policies heralded by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

“Having been in law enforcement as an agent for 33 years, [and] a Baltimore City police officer before that, I can tell you that for me and for the agents that work for DEA, mandatory minimums have been very important to our investigations,” Leonhart said. “We depend on those as a way to ensure that the right sentences are going to the … level of violator we are going after.”

Leonhart, who also has spoken out against leniency in pot laws, has been a thorn on the side of reform efforts.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

San Francisco Gate: Offering Clemency to Low-Level Drug Offenders Is Long Overdue

By San Francisco Gate
Editorial Board

When Barack Obama ran for the White House in 2008, federal inmates and their families believed that if he won, miracles would follow. They were convinced that the former law professor and critic of federal mandatory minimum sentences would be liberal with his unfettered constitutional power to free low-level and nonviolent offenders sentenced to decades, even life without parole, behind bars.

Then, for the next five years, criminal lawyers and reformers stood around scratching their heads wondering why Obama held the worst pardon record of any modern president. He commuted one sentence in his first term. When Obama was re-elected in 2012, they hoped he would open the gates. In December, a small door opened. The president commuted the sentences of eight crack offenders, all of whom had served at least 15 years.

On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement that promises big change. Holder said the Department of Justice will adopt a “new and improved” approach with a bigger team “committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences.” Expect the new team to seek out nonviolent, low-level drug offenders with clean prison records.

Sam Morison, a former staffer in the pardon attorney’s office, fears the new clemency project will be a “technical exercise that only an expert in the federal sentencing guidelines can appreciate.”
But Mary Price of Families Against Mandatory Minimums is ecstatic. For years, the Justice Department’s Office of Pardon Attorney has served as an “office of no” that rejected cases of clear sentencing overkill.

To read more click here.

AG Holder Calls for More Lenient Sentences for Drug Offenders to Handle Prison Overcrowding

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Eric Holder has a partial solution to the U.S.’s massive prison overcrowding – less time for drug offenders.

The Associated Press reports that Holder is addressing overcrowding by favoring drug treatment and community service programs in lieu of long prison sentences. He also support the early release of some elderly inmates.

“We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate — not merely to convict, warehouse and forget,” Holder says in the speech he’s scheduled to deliver Monday.

A major change includes ending mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders without ties to gangs, cartels or other large organizations.