SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) – Attorney General Eric Holder called for scaling back the use of harsh prison sentences for certain drug-related crimes and diversion of low-level offenders to drug treatment and community service. The plan would also expand the release of some elderly, non-violent offenders.
Holder unveiled his proposal Monday during remarks to the American Bar Association in San Francisco.
Under the altered policy, the attorney general said defendants will instead be charged with offenses for which accompanying sentences “are better suited to their individual conduct.”
Federal prisons are operating at nearly 40 percent above capacity and hold more than 219,000 inmates, with almost half of them serving time for drug-related crimes.
Holder said the U.S. can’t simply “prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation.”
“We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate — not merely to convict, warehouse and forget,” Holder said.