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Why should drug sentencing guidelines be changed?

The "War on Drugs" is a popular phrase that has been used to describe America's ongoing attention to the flow of drugs into the United States and throughout the country. Though there have been many victories over the years, by many accounts, the nation is failing to win this war. This current status has lead government officials to take unconventional steps to remedy the situation.

Attorney General Holder addressed the issue of mandatory minimum sentences at the ABA Delegate Meeting, August 12, 2013. In his address, he spoke of the low-level nonviolent drug offenders who lack ties to large-scale organizations that are being sent to prison in large numbers. His comments address a big problem with the "War on Drugs": high numbers for incarcerations.

The United States currently holds one quarter of all the prison population in the world. The current drug laws play a big role in these incarcerations. Incarceration, rather than treatment, is inherent in the criminal justice system. Offenders who are addicted to drugs are often sent to prison, instead of having access to treatment. All of these incarcerations come at the expense of the American people who are taxed to pay for our prisons.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is working to create common sense solutions that will address the problem, rather than merely putting a band aide on the issue. Its Board of Directors passed a resolution that calls for an official end to the "War on Drugs." With Attorney Holder's remarks, many are expecting new sentencing guidelines for drug charges from the Department of Justice in the near future.

Source: The United States Department of Justice, "Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association's House of Delegates," accessed on Aug. 11, 2014

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