New Justice Department Policy Aims to Ease Sentencing for Low-Level Drug Possession

One of the possible punishments that awaits people convicted of drug possession in Federal Courts is a mandatory minimum sentence. The punishment depends in part on the amount of illegal substances found on them and their previous criminal record. Recently however, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced a new Justice Department policy that reflects the concerns of a growing number of lawmakers, attorneys, and civil rights activists about mandatory minimum sentencing.

Guided by this new policy, federal prosecutors will be asked to avoid seeking these mandatory minimum sentences for certain kinds of drug offenders. If the individual isn't violent, and also isn't tied to a cartel or some other shadowy drug organization, they shouldn't be slammed with a sentence that might put them in jail for a long time. Instead, prosecutors will have more flexibility in examining all of the circumstances surrounding the individual's drug-related crime.

There's been a growing emphasis in recent years on rehabilitating low-level offenders rather than locking them away for years. If an individual is addicted to a drug, there may be court-mandated treatment programs for them to participate in, increasing the chances that they'll be able to become fully productive members of society again; their languishing behind bars won't help anyone, least of all their family, including children who may grow up without a mother or father.

The Justice Department is also taking this stance because of the overpopulation in prisons, and California is one of the states where lawmakers have promised to reduce the prison population. Furthermore, the mandatory minimum sentencing laws have always disproportionately hit individuals who come from certain racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Holder's comments emphasize making the justice system more equitable.

Even with these more lenient policies, you'll need to contact a top-notch attorney to ensure that you're treated fairly by the courts and aren't subjected to a sentence that's unnecessarily harsh. Justice shouldn't automatically involve a long stint behind bars.

If you or a loved one is facing federal charges for possession of cocaine, meth or marijuana, we can help. Contact our office in Murrieta, California, to discuss the circumstances of your case.

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