March 13, 2014

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WASHINGTON – Attorney General endorsed a proposal to reduce prison sentences for certain nonviolent drug traffickers during testimony before the U.S. Sentencing Commission today. The proposed change would reduce the average sentence for drug traffickers by 11 months. The commission will vote on the proposal next month.

"Our country’s top prosecutor continues to show his dedication to ending the failed, racially biased war on drugs," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. "With each proposed reform, we move closer to a criminal justice system that is smarter, fairer, and more humane. Attorney General Holder seems committed to making criminal law reform his legacy, and we’re eager to see what he does next."

Today’s endorsement is the latest in a series of sentencing reforms embraced by Holder. Last summer, he directed federal prosecutors to avoid mandatory minimum sentences for certain low-level, non-violent drug offense. He has also urged Congress to pass the Smarter Sentencing Act, which would significantly lower mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offenses and allow judges to use more discretion when determining sentences for non-violent drug offenses.

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