Few societal problems have received as much attention and financial commitment as
drug crime. How to deal with this issue has long been a contentious and much disputed
problem at the federal level of government. Virtually all parties agree
the "war on drugs" has been an utter failure. Since the 80's,
untold amounts of federal revenue has been allocated to combat drug crime
and to incarcerate drug offenders. In an effort to reduce drug crime,
Congress has enacted increasingly severe drug crime legislation. In the
few decades that have elapsed since the "war on drugs" commenced,
a few facts have become dramatically clear. Overall, drug crime, and drug
related violence, have either remained static, or increased. And, federal
financial resources allocated to combat drug crimes have grown grotesquely
large while the nation's prison population has skyrocketed.
Drug Crime Legislation Has Caused Some Unjust Results
Recognizing that many of the federal drug crime laws are unduly harsh and
have resulted in some very disproportionate sentences, the Department
of Justice has revamped its internal criteria for reviewing and expediting
clemency applications from federal inmates.
Deputy Attorney General, James M. Cole announced: "Under the new initiative, the department will prioritize
clemency applications from inmates who meet all the following factors:
They are currently serving a federal sentence in prison and, by operation
of law, likely would have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted
of the same offense(s) today; They are non-violent, low-level offenders
without significant ties to large-scale criminal organizations, gangs
or cartels; They have served at least 10 years of their prison sentence;
They do not have a significant criminal history; They have demonstrated
good conduct in prison; and They have no history of violence prior to
or during their current term of imprisonment."
Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that the changes are a "vital
part" of his
Smart on Crime initiative. This action is the latest change sought in a federal sentencing
system that Attorney General Holder says often results in unduly harsh outcomes.