Bush to embrace lower mandatory sentences for nonviolent offenses

Getty Images

Jeb Bush will embrace lowering mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes and increased reliance on drug courts that prioritize recovery over punishment.

The GOP presidential hopeful announces his drug control policy on Tuesday in New Hampshire at a forum on addiction as he looks to bolster his standing in the important primary state by focusing on one of its biggest issues. 

“Some try to make the drug epidemic just a criminal justice issue, and some try to make it just a healthcare issue,” Bush spokeswoman Allie Brandenberger told The Hill.

“These singular approaches oversimplify this complex challenge.”

She added that the former Florida governor will share his “personal story about how drug abuse has affected his family” at the New Hampshire event. In November, he opened up about his daughter's struggle with addiction during an interview with The Huffington Post. 

A Bush campaign memo notes that government watchdogs have found the Obama administration hasn't achieved any of its goals toward chipping away at drug abuse while deaths continue to rise. 

It's a major issue in New Hampshire, where an October survey found that voters believe it is the most serious problem facing the state.  

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and businesswoman Carly Fiorina all have shared how the issue has had an impact on their lives while promising to devote time to a solution. 

Bush’s plan calls for a softening on mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders, while sharpening punishments for “drug lords, cartels and violent drug traffickers,” according to a campaign memo. 

He'll also up federal efforts to clamp down on “pill mills,” clinics that hand out drugs with little regard for consequences or effects, and promote increased cooperation between state and local governments, as well as private partners. 

Bush’s efforts also connect the drug trade to his border security plan as he aims to cut down on the flow of international heroin into America.