April 10, 2014

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Sentencing Commission today voted to reduce sentencing guidelines for certain people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. The amendment would reduce the average sentence for drug traffickers by 11 months, by lowering the drug sentencing guidelines two levels. Attorney General Eric Holder endorsed the change during testimony before the commission last month.

"Our country is slowly but steadily reversing the damage done by the failed, racially biased war on drugs," said Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU senior legislative counsel. "The actions taken by the Sentencing Commission today are another positive move toward reducing unnecessarily long sentences that have led to bloated, overcrowded prisons. Our criminal justice system is smarter, fairer, and more humane than it was a year ago, and we need to make sure momentum continues in the right direction."

The amendment, along with several others that were passed today, will go to Congress for its approval on May 1. Congress has six months to introduce and pass legislation to stop the proposed changes before they become law on November 1.

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