NORTHEAST, Miss. (WCBI)- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is endorsing a plan that’ll reduce sentences for non-violent drug offenders and cut federal prison numbers by more than 6,500 inmates in 5 years.
” People convicted on certain low-level, non-violent, federal drug crimes will face sentences appropriate to their individual conduct, rather than their stringent, mandatory minimums which will now only be applied to the most serious criminals,” said Holder.
Meanwhile, Mississippi lawmakers are also coming up with sentencing changes. House Bill 585 puts a time limit on violent offenders, no matter what sentence the judge hands down. The proposal says defendants must serve 50% of their time for violent crimes and 35% for non-violent offenders.
“There’s inconsistency with how long someone stays in our prison system. Some judges give, maybe 10 or 15 years to make sure they stay a year or 2. And some give 5 or 6 years and they’re back on the streets after they’ve been sent down there. It’s sort of a revolving door,” said State Representative Gary Chism.
That revolving door is concern for law enforcement.
” When you’ve got drug problems, you’ve either got to incarcerate these individuals or you’ve got to rehabilitate them. We try to give them the tools that they need to survive on the streets. But again, once they get on the streets, get back in the same environment, some of them just don’t have the will power to do what they need to do,” said Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott.
Those who work closely with drug offenders say it’s time to reform our sentencing system, especially since those who are getting help want to turn their life around.
” I’m 100% behind it because it’s all about economics and fairness also. It’s not getting rid of the toughness of crime, but it’s trying to give them some alternative,” said Clay County Drug Coordinator Edward Houston.
Holder says with only 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners.