Holder expected to back reduced drug sentences

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce his support Thursday for shorter prison sentences for people convicted of committing non-violent drug trafficking.

"This overreliance on incarceration is not just financially unsustainable, it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate," Holder will tell the U.S. Sentencing Commission, according to multiple reports.  

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In January, the commission proposed shorter prison sentences for non-violent drug traffickers.

The Justice Department wants to reduce the average sentence to 11 months and cut the number of federal prisoners by 6,550 by 2019.

Holder will tell the commission the stricter punishments should apply to “dangerous and violent drug traffickers.”

Although the commission is not slated to vote on the changes until at least next month, Holder is expected to urge prosecutors to propose sentences that reflect the proposed guidelines.

The Washington Post reports the proposal would affect 70 percent of drug offenders in the criminal justice system. More than 216,000 people are serving in federal prison, and nearly half were convicted for drug-related crimes. 

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