Attorney General Eric Holder took the first major step forward Monday toward improving the justice system as he announced prosecutors will no longer seek long, “mandatory minimum” sentences for many low-level, nonviolent drug offenders.
Rev. Al Sharpton praised the move on Monday’s show, highlighting the story of Patricia Spottedcrow, a mother and first-time offender who initially faced as 12-year sentence for a $30 drug crime involving marijuana.
“Twelve years of her life, for a $30 drug crime? Is that fair? Is that right?” he said.
“It’s extremely important because it’s the first step in unwinding years of criminal justice policy that’s been driven more by ‘tough on crime’ politics than on sound policy,” former U.S Attorney Zachary Carter told Rev. Sharpton on Monday’s PoliticsNation.
“He doesn’t have the power to change the laws but he can work around them.”
Sharpton also highlighted the racial side of the issue, pointing out that one in every 15 African-American men in America is incarcerated, while only one in every 106 white men in America is incarcerated as well, according to the ACLU.
Holder acknowledged the same in his speech to the American Bar Association announcing the new policy.
“In recent years black male offenders have received sentences nearly 20% longer than those imposed on white males convicted on similar crimes,” he said. “This isn’t just unacceptable. It is shameful. It is unworthy of our great country. It is unworthy of our great legal tradition.”