480px-Eric_Holder_official_portraitIn a recent address to the American Bar Association, attorney general Eric Holder spoke out for changes to current drug sentencing laws in an effort to reduce overcrowding in America’s prisons.

Holder singled out mandatory minimum sentencing laws, stating that the criminal justice system should focus on prosecuting the toughest crimes and offenders rather than using criminalization “merely to warehouse and to forget.”

Holder’s comments draw on a shift in public opinion about approaches to criminal sentencing. In response to a spike in the number of drug-related crimes in the 1980s, the federal government favored a “tough on crime” approach, imposing harsh sentences to put offenders behind bars and deter crime.

But with hundreds of thousands of state prisoners incarcerated for drug offenses and a growing epidemic of overcrowding in US prisons, a new approach that emphasizes rehabilitation and alternatives such as community service for low-level offenders is gaining traction.

Legislation aimed at giving federal judges more discretion in sentencing certain drug offenders has been proposed from both sides of the aisle and has received public support from a wide variety of organizations.

Because drug laws directly affect a large percentage of CBI’s incarcerated students, CBI is staying involved in the issue. Read about CBI president Dr. David Schuringa’s participation in a national conference on the War on Drugs here.

Read more about the issue at the Huffington Post.