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Obama Administration Wishes To Commute Drug Offenders’ Sentences

While sentencing for federal drug crimes in Middlesex County is certainly not ideal, it is a lot better than what it used to be. Anyone who has been following our blog knows that we have covered numerous stories of people sentenced for drug offenses at the height of the war on drugs. Mandatory minimum sentences and other serious penalties have kept people in prison for far longer than if they had been convicted under today’s laws.

The Obama Administration recognizes and has announced that it will be working on commuting the sentences of people who have been convicted of drug charges. The focus will be on nonviolent offenders whose sentences are longer than if they had been convicted under contemporary laws, but other types of offenders may be eligible for commutations in the future.

Attorney General Eric Holder was the one to announce the changes via a video released earlier this week. Though there are opponents of the move (both those who think it goes too far and those who don’t think it goes far enough), the president has some flexibility in changing sentencing policy through commutations.

While these possible future commutations may not have anything to do with people currently facing federal drug charges, it could usher in a new era of alternative sentencing programs and lighter punishments for nonviolent offenders. Until such changes are actually implemented, however, it will still be extremely important for people charged with drug offenses to seek out the help of experienced criminal defense attorneys.

Source: Politico, “Holder: Obama to dramatically expand drug clemency,” Josh Gerstein, April 21, 2014

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